I am the 'D' in the D v Ireland case that has become the subject of so much comment in recent weeks.
Now I want to apologise to the hundreds of families who, over the next four years at least, will be devastated when their pregnant wife, daughter, mother or sister receives a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality. I have been told that if I had applied straight to the Irish High Court when I received that diagnosis 13 years ago, things might be different now. I stayed anonymous to grieve and recover, to be in good health for my other children.
The appalling vista this week of 104 politicians voting against medical intervention when a foetus is incompatible with survival haunts me.
Each TD who pressed that red button, declared they will not acknowledge the suffering and will force women to endure exponential tragedy by leaving Ireland for a termination for medical reasons.
The D v Ireland case was taken on the understanding that I would be guaranteed anonymity. I still wonder if I stood in front of the 12 judges in the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and explained that there were no domestic remedies to be exhausted, would Ireland have had to legislate or call a referendum back in 2006, saving hundreds of affected families in the last nine years much pain. At the fourth stage hearing, the ECtHR heard testimony from several third-party legal and medical organisations in my favour. They also heard counsel's opinion on behalf of the Fianna Fáil government.
Four years earlier, in January 2002,I was pregnant with twins. During an amniocentesis, the obstetrician told me one was dead and the other was kicking like a horse. Three weeks later, she called me back to the hospital - by then I was over four months pregnant. As we sat at her desk, her words went over my head: "chromosomal abnormality, incompatible with survival". I stared at the file hoping there was a mix up. We agreed to have the tests couriered to the UK to be triple-checked. The doctor's face was tense as I searched for hope, some explanation, some assurance that this could be fixed. That there might be surgery. She shook her head and explained some organs were already missing. As I had grown big (which is common in Trisomy 18) and was very tired, I could not imagine another five months sustaining this sadness as a family. I became practical for a moment and asked where would they take me? Was there a special ward, where this baby - who would not survive - could be delivered and we could bury him in January rather than July. The doctor stared and said, "that is illegal in this jurisdiction". And that was the beginning of a long and, until recently, private, agony. The agony was not the decision, but the secrecy, the stigma. The pathway to my delivery was ultimately a compassionate one, outside this jurisdiction, where we were treated with the utmost sympathy and I left hospital with a little white coffin and drove back to Ireland and buried our baby at a family funeral. So the unviable unborn can be respected and dignified - no amount of scaremongering will change that.
On Tuesday evening, the Taoiseach revelled in his largesse at providing Clare Daly TD with an opportunity to bring a private member's bill to introduce a clause for fatal foetal abnormality into the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Act 2013. But in fact it was an opportunity to triumphantly declare the untested unconstitutionality of the bill.
However, the bill, combined with the State's argument in D v Ireland, provides ample scope to adopt an amendment.
Dr Alan Brady (Trinity College Law Lecturer and Irish Council of Civil Liberties) in his submission to the Oireachtas in January 2013, referred to my case:
"The argument made by the Irish State was that, had she gone to the High Court, it was at least tenable that she would have successfully obtained a mandatory injunction requiring her to be permitted to have a (termination). Therefore, if that argument is being made by the Irish State and being accepted as a feasible argument by the European Court of Human Rights, if legislation is passed by these Houses providing for lethal foetal abnormality, then it is at least arguable that it is constitutional. We would say there is a strong argument that it is required under Article 3."
Even more compelling, Michael McNamara TD (Labour, Clare) has drafted his own amendment to address fatal foetal abnormality in the PLDP Act, based on my D v Ireland case.He quotes the government's argument to the ECtHR: "It was an open question as to whether Article 40.3.3 could have allowed a lawful abortion in Ireland in the applicant's circumstances."
With the Attorney General's advice to this Government shrouded in secrecy, we cannot review on what basis she re-interpreted this constitutional stance, a course only open to the Supreme Court.
I took the case so that no other woman in Ireland would go through the double tragedy. Other women and men have been braver and have spoken publicly about their different circumstances. We are all the more saddened by having to repeat our stories until something is done.
The country will not go into convulsions. Since 2002, when I first told my story, the awareness of this anomaly in medical intervention has brought about an 80-89pc support for an amendment.