f Humanisticus: Issue of Medical Termination in Ireland

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Issue of Medical Termination in Ireland

The issue of abortion has been contentious wherever the topic has materialised. It has caused a split in society between people who label themselves pro-lifers and those who call themselves pro-choice. Both sides have very valid arguments which are wide-ranging and complex so I will not discuss them here. What I would like to consider is the grey area, the part of the abortion debate which is less discussed. While listening to the Ray D’Arcy show a couple of weeks back an email was read out which he had received from a woman using the pseudonym of Marie, who also joined him on air. In the letter, and in her verbal testimony on air, Marie detailed an ordeal no woman should have to go through due to the archaic Irish laws and the unwillingness for politicians to examine this topic due to its taboo nature. Marie underwent a scan during her 13th week of pregnancy; it was discovered the baby she was carrying suffered from cystic hygroma, which is a chromosome abnormality. She was informed that she would either miscarry or the child would die soon after birth. In medical terminology the child was ‘not deemed compatible with life’. As there was no hope for the baby’s survival, Marie expected, as anybody would have, an induced miscarriage or a termination. However, due to the laws in Ireland these options were denied. The only options available were to continue to carry the baby who would inevitably die from heart failure either within the uterus or soon after birth, or travel to a hospital in Liverpool which specialises in medical terminations. These two options are both quite harrowing. Imagine the first if you will; being forced to carry your child knowing it is never going to live, explaining to your loved ones/co-workers/children that your baby is all but dead. However, you still carry it and it still grows inside of you while you wait for a miscarriage that can arrive any day. This is surely borderline mental torture which no woman should be forced to go through. Unfortunately the second option, which Marie took, is not much better. Marie went to the hospital in Liverpool to have the medical termination. Medical terminations are a traumatic experience and one should have the support of family and loved ones, but Marie was forced to leave their support to get the help she needed, no doubt this added to the anguish of losing her child. It should also be pointed out that this cost Marie €2.800, a sum of money not every family can afford. So many women who cannot access such funds have no choice but to continue carrying their child until it eventually dies in their womb. Of course after hearing Marie’s plight a plethora of emails and texts flooded in with similar stories detailing not only the mental torment of losing one’s child but the added distress of being forced to continue to bear the baby or being ripped away from loved ones to have a medical termination in alien surroundings. Surely both sides of the abortion debate can at least agree on this; if the child has no chance of life the rights of the mother should come first. The mother already has to deal with the loss of her unborn baby, why add to her mental suffering when it is clearly unnecessary.

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