I am marching because I am very disappointed. Disappointed and really, really angry. When we repealed the 8th amendment, there was a tremendous expectation from the new legislation. We hoped that it would put an end to people with a crisis being exported from their country to another country, which would help them.
I had never heard of a fatal foetal anomaly until I came from England to live in Ireland 13 years ago. I guess it was never on my radar because people weren’t travelling to get a compassionate abortion in another country. It was probably not something talked about because of the trauma involved and because people could discuss what needed to be done with their medical team.
I saw many of the brave people from TFMR telling their stories during the campaign. The mental and physical toll taken on some of these people was unbelievable, dredging up the pain they experienced, the anguish at being let down by the country they lived in and the loss of a much wanted pregnancy. Imagine not being able to bring home the body of a much wanted baby, leaving the arrangements to strangers and then receiving back a pot of ashes from a courier. Can you imagine how that must feel, I can’t imagine that at all, but I can empathise.
We have legislation now for FFA. But not all FFA is equal; some FFA is more fatal than others. The law states, that a termination can be carried out if there exists an anomaly that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before or within 28 days of birth. There’s more, if someone helps a person get an abortion outside the provision of this act the punishment could be 14 years in prison. This puts the medical profession in a very difficult position. Are people getting the best possible care when the medical profession have the sword of Damocles over their heads or is it easier to err on the side of caution and not sign off on a termination of pregnancy? We need to place our care in the hands of medics who do not have the fear of being struck off or imprisoned; we are not getting the best care from doctors and health care professionals who feel threatened with the force of the law. There is no such legislation under English law because they trust the medical profession to do the best for their patient, which is why Ireland is still making England a legal destination for this kind of abortion.
Imagine now, you have a diagnosis of a Fatal Foetal Anomaly, but the doctors are refusing to sign off on a termination of pregnancy because they are not sure if falls within the remit of the act. The only option open now is to make arrangements and travel to a country that will carry out a compassionate abortion. Once again, the state has failed. People are having to arrange childcare, buy tickets and find the money to go abroad, maybe even getting them into debt in order to do what they feel necessary under these sad circumstances. Once again, people have to leave the bodies of their much wanted baby in a foreign country to be dealt with by strangers; once again, their misery is compounded further by the situation the restrictive legislation in Ireland has put them into. This is not good enough and it has to stop.
I am marching because I cannot bear for these people to go through this kind of misery. I do not want to sit in a room again while someone rips out their heart to tell people about their experience of FFA and termination in another country. I am marching because I want this sorted out once and for all.
My message to the legislators in this country is, for fuck’s sake, sort this out, we’re fed up with this shit and we are fed up to the back teeth of asking nicely, we are no longer asking nicely, we are now demanding that you sort this out.