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26th May 2017, 11:57:27 UTC

“In February 2015 I wrote in The Irish Times regarding my experience of terminating a much wanted pregnancy due to a severe foetal abnormality. The following is a brief account of that experience.

Our baby, Laoise, due to a genetic mutation, had a number of very serious abnormalities. There was a possibility that these abnormalities, though severe, were not necessarily fatal. We felt however that due to the severity and combination of her health issues that she would have an extremely poor quality of life if she lived. We did not want her to have to endure a prolonged death and we struggled to see how her life could be a happy one if she survived. In addition we knew that the medical intervention that would have been needed to keep her alive would have caused her substantial physical pain over a long period.

We travelled to France (my husband being French) to seek a further diagnosis once our baby’s health problems were detected in Ireland. We desperately wanted our baby to live and we desperately wanted to care for her. However, following a more complete diagnosis in France, we reached a realization that letting our baby go gently and peacefully was the most loving thing we could do for her. After our baby died we learned that had she been born alive we would have been strongly advised to consider declining life-saving surgeries (this would have been the case in both Ireland and France).

The doctors overseeing our baby’s care (in a maternity and paediatric hospital) unanimously supported our decision. The staff who accompanied us through our baby’s death and birth in that hospital made the experience very dignified and serene. Our daughter fell asleep in the comfort of my womb and died peacefully.

In our grief in France we were supported by sympathetic, understanding staff. On our return to Ireland the maternity staff here gave us tremendous support that we valued enormously. This contrasted with the varied support and inconsistent information we received prior to travelling abroad with one obstetrician advising that late term abortion was not possible in any country.

The process of obtaining and considering a diagnosis in France, our baby’s death and birth, and our baby’s funeral necessitated being away from home and from our two other children for over two and a half weeks. Over a two day period, before I left Ireland, I had to break the news to my four- and six-year-old that their baby sister was very sick, I had to prepare them for the possibility that she might die, and then, when they most needed our support, I had to leave them with their grandparents without even being able to tell them when I would be home.

Our baby was beautiful. She weighed 5lbs. and she had lots of dark chestnut hair. She bore a strong resemblance to both of her siblings. Our baby was loved and very much wanted from the moment I was aware of her existence. Now we cherish happy memories of when we were planning for her arrival.  We will always love her.”