Arlette Lyons, Fiona Walsh, Ruth Bowie, Sarah McGuinness, Julie O Donnell, Agatha Corcoran, Deirdre Conroy and Gaye Edwards, all from the group Terminations For Medical Reasons outside the Dáil in 2013
Further to the defeat of Independent 4 Change TD Mick Wallace’s bill to allow for abortion in cases of fatal foetal abnormalities…
Gaye Edwards, who lost her first child, Joshua, to anencephaly, writes:
I like to think that our collective input influenced the recommendations that so many UN member states made when Ireland’s human rights record came under review in May 2016. Together, they called on Ireland to change its highly restrictive abortion laws. Working with Amnesty has also given weight to our assertion that we are not criminals, and that by denying us treatment in our own country, Ireland is violating our human rights.
I feel that sharing my experience has helped to spark a public discourse in Ireland which was previously absent. The Irish people are getting a better understanding of how the 8th Amendment to the Constitution (which puts the right to life of the foetus on equal footing with that of the woman), affects not only people in circumstances like mine, but in other circumstances too. It is no longer a simple black and white argument, but a rich and nuanced discussion, full of the complexity of real-life situations.
The majority of Irish people are caring and compassionate, and don’t want suffering to continue. This needs to be reflected in our laws. I have realised from my interactions with Amnesty that these views are shared by people all over the world. Witnessing their support for me has been both humbling and uplifting.
In my own experience, some older, more conservative relatives had expressed sympathy and support for my husband and me as we tried to navigate our own tragedy. Yet they never discussed the injustice of it with anyone else as the subject of abortion has always been considered taboo. Now, however, they share our story freely, and are proud of our quest for justice.
So, what next? Well I think the short answer is “more of the same!” We will continue to tell our stories in order to help educate people generally about the nature of fatal foetal anomalies.
We will continue to tell our stories to help women who have suffered losses in secret, realise that they did nothing wrong – that they are not criminals, and they are not alone.
We will continue all this until we have a legal and social environment that respects women’s choices and no longer punishes tragedy.
Partnering with Amnesty helped us globalize our campaign to change Ireland’s abortion laws (Gaye Edwards, Amnesty International)
Previously: On Message