Photo courtesy of MjZ Photography, published under a Creative Commons license.

Photo courtesy of MjZ Photography, published under a Creative Commons license.

By Helen

‘But what about the baby? How can you be for abortion when you are a parent?’ is a question I often hear when I express the view that a woman should be free to make the choices that are right for her in her pregnancy.

When I look at my daughter toddling around the place, getting into mischief and fun, I have an overwhelming urge to protect her from everything bad in the world. I want her world to be a beautiful place, because she is my baby and always will be. It breaks my heart to think that she will grow up in a country that values her life, health and happiness less than a bunch of cells. A country that will limit her options in birth and childbirth and take away her right to informed consent.

But what about the babies?

The woman for whom having a baby would be a disaster, who does not feel that she is in a place to be a parent, for whatever reason.

She is somebody’s baby.

The woman who already has too many mouths to feed, and is slipping past the poverty line, where another baby will affect the whole family. The woman who can barely find the money for bread and milk, never mind an expensive trip to England.

She is somebody’s baby.

The woman with hyperemesis gravidarum, who has spent months unable to keep any food or drink down and whose doctors say her vital organs are at risk of damage.

She is somebody’s baby.

The couple who find themselves in the heartbreaking situation of being given a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality, who desire a child more than anything in the world but who have been told their child will not survive birth, or will live a short time in excruciating pain, and like all parents want what they think is best for their child.

They are somebody’s babies.

Michelle Harte, who was suffering from cancer, her doctors advising her to terminate her pregnancy because of the risks to her health, however was refused a termination because her life was not under ‘immediate threat’. Michelle was forced to travel for an abortion, severely ill with cancer, her vitally urgent treatment delayed by the time travel could be arranged.

Michelle was somebody’s baby.

Miss Y who, pregnant by rape and fleeing her home country to find refuge in the land of Céad Mile Fáilte, found herself trapped by the system that was supposed to help her. She attempted to leave Ireland for an abortion but was denied and sent back to Ireland, her prison. Tormented by nightmares and flashbacks, Miss Y became suicidal but instead of being facilitated with an abortion under the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act, she was detained and force-fed until 26 weeks gestation when she endured a forced caesarian to deliver an extremely premature infant – an operation that will have long term ramifications for any future pregnancies or births she goes through.

Miss Y is somebody’s baby ­and indeed was a child when she was impregnated by rape.

The baby born to Miss Y, a premature infant on the cusp of viability, will have a life marked by suffering and severe disabilities. This suffering is as a direct result of Irish law.

Savita Halappanavar, who died in pain and grief, having begged for an abortion of the pregnancy she knew she was miscarrying and that was dying. Savita’s living hell was extended over a number of days before she dies of sepsis, an avoidable death had her wishes been respected in good time.

Savita was somebody’s baby.

I cannot even imagine what the parents of all the women affected by these issues must go through when they see their children suffer like this. I cannot imagine losing my child or seeing her health and wellbeing being so eroded because of these antiquated laws. My baby will always be my baby, even when she is having babies of her own. I want that time to be as happy and as healthy as possible for her, but I also want her to be safe. I want her to have the same healthcare options in pregnancy and childbirth that women in most other European countries have. I want her human rights to be upheld and I want her to be in charge of her body, not ruled by a constitutional law voted in a different time in a different culture, by a religion I don’t subscribe to, that every government has failed to address.

Repeal the 8th. For our babies.

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