Friday 25 May 2018

'I felt abandoned by this country' - mother who had termination in UK

Amy Callahan with her partner Connor Upton at their home in Dublin. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne
Amy Callahan with her partner Connor Upton at their home in Dublin. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne

Emily Roe

A year after travelling to Britain to terminate her pregnancy, Amy Callahan decided to share her story.

The referendum will mark almost a year to the day that Ms Callahan and her partner Connor Upton returned to Dublin on May 23 with the ashes of their daughter, Nico, in their hand luggage.

Ms Callahan (35) and Mr Upton, members of campaign group Terminations for Medical Reasons, said they both wanted the pregnancy. The north Dublin couple were told 12 weeks in that the foetus had anencephaly, a rare condition that prevents the normal development of the brain.

It meant the baby, who would have been their second child, would die in utero or live for a matter of minutes.

"I know that birth is not easy on a baby and the head is such an important part. I started to think about what would be the kindest thing that we could do and I didn't think it was a pregnancy we were going to continue," she said.

She and her husband told few people about that trip nearly a year ago. But ahead of the May 25 vote, she is one of scores of women on both sides of the issue who are sharing their stories.

Vicky Wall, a 41-year-old anti-abortion activist campaigning in Nenagh, Co Tipperary, said a doctor brought up the option of abortion when her unborn baby was diagnosed with Edwards' syndrome, a genetic disorder.

"What the doctor actually said was 'you can pop to England', which was horrific," she said.

She carried the baby to full term instead. "My baby was born at 32 weeks, then she died. I got to take her home, spend time with her," she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Callahan recalled her grief and exhaustion in the two weeks ahead of their appointment at the clinic in Liverpool.

She wondered how she would have explained things to her son, then one-and-a-half, had she carried the baby to full term.

She wondered how she would have responded to friends and colleagues when they asked about the progress of her pregnancy and when she was due.

"It felt like we were abandoned by this country," Ms Callahan said. "We weren't looked after here, we weren't received with compassion at such a difficult time.

"The worst thing has already happened to us," said Ms Callahan.

"Whether this referendum passes or not, it's not the worst thing for us, it's about the worst thing for the next person and it needs to be changed."

Irish Independent

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