Press Release: TFMR call on Northern Ireland assembly to show compassion

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TFMR Ireland has issued a statement to mark the first anniversary of Dáil Éireann rejecting a bill to legislate for terminations of pregnancy in cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormalities, and to coincide with MLAs in the Northern Ireland Assembly debating an amendment to the Justice Bill to allow just that.

Terminations For Medical Reasons have, with absolute courage and determination, spearheaded the campaign for the need for change in our laws around abortion to deal with tragic cases of fatal foetal abnormalities. You can read the press release below.

TFMR Ireland Press release, 09 February 2016

On the first anniversary of the defeat of Clare Daly’s Private Members Bill in Dáil Éireann to legislate for terminations of pregnancy in cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormality, Northern Ireland’s Assembly has the opportunity to show compassion to its families by passing a proposed amendment to the Justice Bill to allow just that.

On the 10th February 2015, Dáil Éireann rejected a Bill by 20 votes to 104 which, if it had passed, would have given many families faced with a diagnosis of Fatal Foetal Abnormality the choice to end their pregnancies here in Ireland with the support of their family and friends and the care of the medical professionals who had looked after them up to that point. The Government cited unpublished advice from the Attorney General that such a Bill could not be passed because of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution.

Today [10th Feb 2016] the Northern Ireland Assembly, unencumbered by the restrictions of a Constitution, has the opportunity to accept proposed amendments to the Justice Bill which willallow for terminations of pregnancy in cases of fatal foetal diagnosis and where the pregnancy arises as a result of rape or incest.

“The irony is that 15 years ago this Friday [12th Feb 2016] a Belfast Hospital opened its doors to my wife and me after our son was diagnosed with severe anencephaly, a condition which meant that most of his skull and brain had not formed, and one which was described to us by multiple specialists as ‘incompatible with life'” says Gerry Edwards, a spokesperson with the group TFMR Ireland. “After being abandoned by our hospital in Dublin, and by Irish laws and society, we were treated with kindness and compassion in Belfast. Our son was treated with the utmost dignity throughout.” Gaye Edwards continues “We had to leave Joshua behind and he was cremated in Roselawn. For years we believed he was alone, but we found out last year that a pathologist in the hospital brought him to the crematorium in her car and sat with him during his cremation. I cried when I heard this. It shows that people are essentially good and want to support families in these situations in any way they can.”

Key findings of a poll of over 1000 people in Northern Ireland carried out by Millward Brown Ulster in October 2014 showed that 60% of people felt that abortion services should be available where a foetus has a fatal abnormality, with this number increasing to 69% where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.

In an interview with Niamh Griffin, Health Correspondent, The Mail of Sunday, Fr Peter Morgan, a chaplain at Liverpool Women’s Hospital for the last 21 years says of the Irish women (North and South) who have travelled: “Our job is to take the love to them. Anyone losing a baby deserves a lot of love. We try to be Jesus to them. There is no way there is any judgement. When you get a termination, there can be consequences psychologically. I’m only sorry that I’m not there for them after they leave.”

“We have met so many families who have suffered significant additional distress as a result of being forced to continue with pregnancies that could not result in a living baby, or have to travel to

England or further afield and smuggle their baby’s remains home in the boot of their car, have their cremated remains returned by courier, or bury their baby abroad. We are asking all of the Assembly members to show some compassion for the women in Northern Ireland and their families who will unfortunately find themselves in this situation in the future” pleads Gerry Edwards.

ENDS

Gaye Edwards (+353 86 1717871)

Gerry Edwards (+353 86 1021306)

TFMR Ireland

E-mail: tfmrireland@gmail.com

YouTube: Sent Away: Stories of Fatal Foetal Abnorrmality from TFMR Ireland

Twitter: @TFMRIRE

NOTES TO EDITOR

– TFMR Ireland are women and men who have been faced with the heartbreaking diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormalities. Due to the restrictive laws in Ireland, we were all forced to either travel to the UK and further afield to receive treatment which is illegal in Ireland, or to continue our pregnancies in Ireland against our will. We have all been traumatised, shocked and appalled that at our greatest time of need, our country turned its back on us and made us feel like criminals. Many of us found ourselves in unfamiliar places away from family, friends and our homes.

– We are de-stigmatising terminations of pregnancy in cases of Fatal Foetal Abnormality and raising awareness of this horrific problem by publicly sharing our personal experiences. We are also campaigning for a change in the law so that others need not suffer as we have. The law cannot prevent babies from developing conditions which are incompatible with life, but as a Country and a society we can show compassion, understanding and support for mothers and fathers in this situation. Nobody should have to suffer as we have in addition to the loss of a baby.

– TFMR Ireland also operate a charity “Leanbh Mo Chroi” which offers emotional support to families by manning a helpline +353 86 74 74 746 and running face to face support meetings every few months. This is facilitated on a shoestring budget. We receive no state support.