#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 7 December 2021

Irish laws ‘forcing us to go to Manchester for a termination this weekend’

Niamh, a young woman of 23, was told at the 11-week mark of her pregnancy that her baby would not survive past birth. She will travel for a termination this weekend.

RICKI AND NIAMH, a couple in their early 20s expecting their first child, are to travel to the UK this weekend to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy.

They will borrow money and take two flights in one day.

The young Kildare residents received some devastating news last week and events have spiralled from there.

Niamh, at the 11-week mark of her pregnancy, attended a Dublin hospital for her first scan.

Following multiple consultations, a team of three doctors told them that their baby had a fatal foetal abnormality and would not survive even an hour after birth.

The medics explained that due to a severe form of Spina Bifida, the baby’s head would not form correctly over the brain.

As the young couple were digesting the tragic news, they were advised that an early termination of the pregnancy would only be possible in the UK as Ireland’s abortion laws do not permit procedures to be carried out in hospitals here.

Support groups have been meeting with the government for the past two years on the issue and Ricki was aware of the current situation.

However, on finding himself in that position, he realises “how wrong” it is.

“The pregnancy was a surprise,” he told TheJournal.ie, “but we were so delighted and excited about it.

It hit us like a tonne of bricks. Niamh is crying every hour and I feel absolutely sick the government has still not acted enough on this.

He said he wanted people to know their story in order to put pressure on politicians to make “necessary changes”.

“We are forced to go to the UK for an termination – which we have been advised to do in so many words – as anything else will prolong the pain for my girlfriend and the baby at birth,” he explained, noting that he believes the argument is not tied to one of pro-choice.

I want to make people realise more about the laws here. I understand that some situations should be against the law but when a baby is going to be born with an exposed brain and will die in birth or within an hour after, I find it sick that nothing can be done.

Ricki and Niamh have planned to travel to a Manchester clinic for an early termination later on Saturday. Ricki’s grandmother has paid for their flights and they have organised a loan for the remainder of the approximately €750 cost.

They will fly over to the city in the morning and return to Dublin that evening.

“We both feel wrong about travelling,” he says. “But it would destroy her mentally if she had to go further with the pregnancy and there would be no baby alive.”

Niamh was told that if the pregnancy went to term, the baby would be stillborn or live for less than one hour and would be in pain.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The couple are also devastated that they will not be able to take the foetus home because travelling rules do not permit the remains to return with them.

“The baby stays in Manchester. Thanks to the Irish government we are now left to feel even worse by having to go to another country to do something that should be available here. For the government not to have legislation to stop a mother and baby suffering something that is inevitable at the end of pregnancy is absolutely sickening,” added Ricki.

Women from support group TFMR (Terminations for Medical Reasons) have taken their fight for a change in laws to the United Nations and just last week a second challenge was lodged.

The Centre for Reproductive Rights (CRR) filed three petitions on behalf of Amanda Mellett and Siobhán Whelan alleging human rights violations with the UN Human Rights Committee.

The government said it could not legislate for terminations in these cases in last year’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act because it would be deemed unconstitutional. A referendum would be required to allow for such procedures, it believes.

TFMR continues to meet and offer support to women whose babies have been diagnosed with fatal foetal abnormalities. The group’s website can be found here. They be reached by email: tfmrireland@gmail.com. Support group Leanbh mo Chroi can also be found on Facebook, or contacted by email at leanbhmochroi@gmail.com or by telephone on 086 747 4746.

Read: Ireland’s abortion laws to be challenged at the UN for a second time

More: Emotional plea for change: ‘Wrap your arms around us…don’t kick us out’

Medical Terminations: ‘Ours is a very specific, heartbreaking and clear-cut case’

Read next: