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'In Ireland, Helen would go to jail': Graham Linehan speaks of wife's abortion after fatal foetal diagnosis

The couple decided to highlight their story as part of Amnesty International’s campaign to decriminalise abortion in Ireland.

Source: Amnesty International Ireland/YouTube

IRISH WRITER AND director Graham Linehan and his wife Helen have spoken about their heartbreaking experience with a fatal foetal abnormality in pregnancy.

In an emotional video which forms part of Amnesty International‘s campaign to decriminalise abortion, the couple describes how excited they were to learn Helen was expecting soon after they got married.

“When Helen finally did get pregnant, we did that thing that you’re not supposed to do, which is we told people,” Linehan explains.

At just under 12 weeks a scan revealed the foetus had a condition called ‘acrania’ which means the flat bones over a baby’s brain have not formed. It has a 100% mortality rate.

“It was very traumatic sitting in a waiting room with heavily pregnant women, knowing that this little flutter in my tummy was not going to survive,” Helen explains. A few days later, she had a termination.

It was very sad but I just praise the treatment and the support we were given by the hospital because in other places it’s different.

The couple, who were residing in the UK at the time, say they are very aware that their story could be totally different if they were living in Linehan’s home country at the time.

“In Ireland, Helen would go to jail for going through with that operation,” he says, referring to the potential 14 year prison sentence women face under Irish legislation.

I would have had to have gone full term knowing that this baby, going into shops and every day life, having a heavily pregnant body, people commenting: “oh, when are you due?”. All that stuff. Going through labour, your body’s changed, knowing the baby’s not going to survive.

“All I wanted to do was get over that hurdle of what happened to us and move on and try again.”

The Irish writer says he is proud to call himself Irish but is “thoroughly ashamed of the abortion laws and it’s time Ireland grew up about that”.

“Irish politicians need to treat it as the emergency that it is,” he adds.

The Linehans have collaborated with Amnesty on this new campaign film to call on the Irish government to repeal the eight amendment:

Source: Amnesty International Ireland/YouTube

Read: ‘Women must decide their fate’: Thousands attend pro-choice march>

Poll: Do you want the 8th Amendment to be repealed?>

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