TFMR Ireland calls for honest debate around Fatal Foetal Abnormalities and impact of 8th on affected families.

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“Not having a position is effectively opposing change” say campaigners.

TFMR Ireland Press release, 04 July 2015

TFMR Ireland today (Tuesday 09th June 2015) call upon all groups and political parties interested in either repealing or retaining the 8th amendment to the Constitution to engage in honest and open debate about Fatal Foetal Abnormalities, and the impact that these conditions and the lack of a full range of medical options have on mothers and fathers.

“We fully understand that some parents when given the news that their much wanted baby will not be capable of surviving outside the womb will choose to continue with their pregnancy, and as parents who have been in this position we fully respect that choice and we fully sympathise with these families and their losses” says Gerry Edwards, a spokesperson for TFMR Ireland.

However, continuing with the pregnancy is not the option that many other families feel is in the best interests of them and their baby, and in order to bring their pregnancy to its tragic conclusion at a time of their choosing, they were forced to leave their families, medical carers, friends, colleagues and country in order to avail of standard medical care in another country because it is a criminal offence here. As a consequence they have been further stigmatised and made to feel like criminals because of the choices they made, which is further compounded by their inability to have funerals for their babies and to publically grieve in a normal manner.

“Some of us have decided to waive our rights to privacy in order to tell our stories so that others who have been through this may feel less stigmatised and alone, and also to create an understanding among the public and legislators in particular about this cruel reality, in the hope that those who face this situation in the future will not have to suffer as we have. For doing this we have sometimes been called murderers and in fact one group recently referred to us as schizophrenic for wanting to bury our babies. It is appalling that there are those in 21st century Ireland who continue to judge and condemn mothers at the most vulnerable time in their lives. This could happen to anyone – to you, your sister, your cousin, your daughter, your friends or colleagues.”

There have recently been a number of attempts both nationally and internationally to remove the expressions “Fatal Foetal Abnormality” and “Incompatible with Life” from this debate. “Those who are actively campaigning against having a referendum to repeal the 8th are constantly using expressions like “disability”, “life limiting condition” or “potentially fatal” to describe the conditions that our babies had. This is highly insulting to us. It demeans us, our babies and the legitimate choices we made in our circumstances. Our babies had Fatal Foetal Abnormalities, and the prognosis given to us by qualified, practicing and experienced foetal health experts was that their conditions were ‘incompatible with life outside the womb’. Nobody wanted to vindicate our babies right to life more than us but unfortunately a cruel twist in nature prevented this from happening and nobody in the world was more devastated by this than we were. The implication that our babies conditions were less severe than they actually were is deeply hurtful and insulting to all of us. We join those groups who are calling for Perinatal Hospice care to be made available to families like ours, but this cannot be the only option. The option to terminate the pregnancy must also be available.”

Gerry Edwards continues “We have been trying meet with the Taoiseach, Minister for Health and Minister for Justice to see how they propose to address this wrong but they wont see us. Nobody can inform them about the impact the 8th amendment has on families who have been given a Fatal Feotal Abnormality diagnosis more than those who have been through it. If they wont meet us how can they understand, and if they wont understand and acknowledge this cruelty how can remedy it? We need an honest discussion about Fatal Feotal Abnormalities and that cannot happen when groups insist on pretending they dont exist.”

TFMR Ireland are also calling upon all political parties to clearly state their position in their election manifestos in relation to repeal of the 8th, which is required to facilitate a legal environment in which the medical needs of women whose babies have been diagnosed with a Fatal Foetal Abnormality can be provided. “It is unacceptable that political parties remain silent in relation to their position. Not having a position is effectively opposing change” according to James Burke of TFMR Ireland.

Sent Away: Stories of Fatal Foetal Abnorrmality from TFMR Ireland

  • TFMR Ireland are women and men who have all made the heartbreaking choice to terminate much wanted pregnancies due to fatal foetal abnormalities. Due to the restrictive laws in Ireland, we were all forced to travel to the UK and further afield in order to do this. 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. We found ourselves in unfamiliar places away from family, friends and our homes.
  • We are raising awareness of this horrific problem and campaigning for a change in the law because we do not want anyone else to 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 086 74 74 746 and running face to face support meetings every few months. This is facilitated on a shoestring budget by families who have travelled to avail of terminations following diagnosis of Fatal Foetal Abnormalities. We receive no state support. Almost all Irish maternity hospitals refuse to give out information about Leanbh Mo Chroi and most people who contact us now have received our details from Liverpool Womens Hospital.