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Sunday 22 October 2017

WATCH: Citizens' Assembly to hear from advocacy groups on Eight Amendment

The Assembly is to hear personal stories of women who have had abortions this afternoon
The Assembly is to hear personal stories of women who have had abortions this afternoon

Laura Lynott

A number of advocacy groups will today make their case why Ireland's Eight Amendment should either be repealed or remain.

The Government-approved Citizens' Assembly is hosting its fourth sitting to discuss the Eight Amendment, which restricts abortions.

In total, 17 pro-life and pro-choice will take to the stage in Dublin Castle to make presentations.

During yesterday's session, a woman forced to travel to the UK for a late-term abortion, said Ireland is wrong to "trap" women into carrying foetus' with fatal conditions and has called for an end to the stigma.

The woman said she’d “skipped” excitedly to her 12-week ultrasound scan, before hearing the horrific news her foetus was unlikely to survive birth. 

She was one of six women who spoke on anonymous recordings made for the Citizens’ Assembly.

Each emotional story was played for the 99 members, giving insight into the traumatic journey thousands of Irish women take each year to the UK to seek abortions for varying reasons.

“I remember skipping into the midwife,” the woman said. “She said the baby was quiet and not moving, that some of my blood results were worrying her.  A doctor said they’d never seen a baby like ours live past 17 weeks and I’d most likely have a miscarriage."

The mother-of-one, desperate to have her impossible little girl, kept returning to the doctor, to see if there was any hope the baby could survive.

“And every time he told me she would pass away,” the woman said.

“By 18 weeks, we got the results which confirmed she had a complete extra set of chromosomes and that variant was fatal. There was no hope.

“When I was 24 weeks pregnant, I was thinking how can I still be pregnant when my baby is going to pass away?

“Walking into the hospital you’d see everyone else with bumps and carrying these car seats with their babies and I realised I’d never leave hospital with my baby in a car seat.

“My baby would be leaving in a coffin.”

The mother said because of the current restriction to abortion in Ireland, she was forced to continue an unviable pregnancy.

And though her blood pressure shot up and she began to show signs of preeclampsia, a potentially-life threatening condition, she was not assisted or given any practical advice to help her.

“It made me feel I didn’t matter, my life was the same as a non-viable baby,” she said.

The woman said it was time Ireland stopped stigmatising women who seek abortions, adding:  “We aren’t ogres, or unclean, we’re your sisters, mothers, nieces. We are every woman.

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