Parents facing fatal foetal abnormality ‘treated differently’

Couples who suffer a fatal foetal abnormality are treated differently in this country depending on the choice they make, the master of the National Maternity Hospital has said.

Rhona Mahony said that if the Eighth Amendment is not repealed, “what we are saying is that we continue to require women to be dying before they access a termination of pregnancy”.

Speaking at the launch of Labour’s campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment, Dr Mahony said pregnant women with a fatal foetal abnormality currently must travel “with all the shame and stigma on a plane to a different country to doctors they have never met away from their families” and they do this “knowing that this option will be a criminal offence” in Ireland.

Meanwhile, those who chose to continue with the pregnancy are given all the supports required.

Parents Amy Callaghan and Conor Upton also spoke of their own experience of travelling to Britain for a termination after they found out their unborn child had a fatal condition.

Calling for a yes vote on May 25, Mr Upton said: “A year ago, we lost our child to a fatal foetal abnormality and a month ago we opened our curtains of our bedroom and found a poster outside with a picture of a foetus and a message which said ‘licence to kill’.”

Mr Upton described the trauma of having to deal with the paperwork to bring the body of their baby Nico home at a time when they were grieving.

“None of this should have happened to us. We should have been taken care of here,” said Ms Callaghan.

“My healthcare should have been here, our family should have been cared for here, but this isn’t just about us, we are talking about compassion in a crisis.”

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said that while many may think the issue does not directly impact them, “people need to think beyond themselves to their wives and sisters, their daughters, all of whom could be affected by this decision”.