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TFMR Ireland: 'It was difficult being talked about when we were right there in the room'

The group has asked not be to be left out of the campaign.

Members of TFMR Ireland at a Together for Yes event in Dublin this morning.
Members of TFMR Ireland at a Together for Yes event in Dublin this morning.
Image: TheJournal.ie

MEMBERS OF THE Termination For Medical Reasons (TFMR) group have asked that their lived experiences not be “dismissed” in the debate about the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking at a Together for Yes event in Dublin this morning, Siobhan Donohue said that No campaigners have been “callous” about the lived experiences of women who’ve had a termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

“In the last few days the No side have been dismissive and callous about our actual experiences. The No side have casually dissed the thousands of Irish women who’ve had to travel because our country has abandoned us,” she said.

Donohue spoke about her own experience of having to travel and said it was the “least worst option” for her family:

I think we would like people to hear our stories because when you hear people debating our lived reality, that is hard to take. I know the truth of what I had to do. I remember sitting in that airport trying to be invisible. I remember sitting on that airplane, sitting listening to a hen party when we travelled. And that is very difficult to then hear people trying to say that the reality is different.

“We didn’t have the option we wanted, we wanted to bring home a baby. We didn’t get that option, so we chose to make the decision, which was the least worst option for us. We had two horrible options and we picked the one that we could live with best,” she added.

TFMR were critical earlier this week of Monday’s Claire Byrne Live debate after they were invited to sit in the audience but were not afforded the chance to speak.

TFMR founder Gaye Edwards repeated that criticism today:

It was difficult that we were being talked about when we were right there in the room. We’re not an abstract concept. I’m neighbour to lots of people, I’m mom to four kids, all of whom go to school. We’re all around you and I don’t think it’s a good thing to require people to speak out, but when we do, please listen. Please listen, because we have real lived experiences and can inform the debate.

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As well as other parents in the TFMR group, Master of the National Maternity Hospital Rhona Mahony and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke about the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities.

Mahony said that the campaign should not be about sides but about healthcare.

“This is not about a debate, this is about real life and that is the whole point. We can have ideology, we can have philosophy, we can have religion, but at the end of the day we’re left with real life and that’s about caring for real women,” she said.

These women are locked out of our healthcare system and that simply isn’t good enough. I would like to care for these women at home, close to their families, and be compassionate.

Speaking about today’s opinion poll which gave the Yes side a 16% lead excluding undecided voters, McDonald said that said that she is “skeptical” about polls and that she “wouldn’t take anything for granted”.

On the issue of fatal foetal abnormalities, McDonald said that such cases are not exceptional.

“When all of the din and the noise subsides this is the reality of it: These aren’t hard cases, these aren’t exceptional stories, this is reality. This is the reality of what the Eighth Amendment has meant for these families,” she said.

“It is right to allow these women, these families, people who lived through this nightmare to be cared for at home. That’s the least that we owe to them, that’s the least that we owe to ourselves and each other.”

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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