News | 10 months ago

Gerry Edwards from TFMR Ireland has reacted angrily to Senator Rónán Mullen comments about bereavement in the Sunday Independent.

Edwards is a spokesman for TFMR Ireland - TFMR stands for Termination For Medical Reasons - and he provided the following response to Mullen's column, in which he writes, 'Whether it's in Dublin or Durham, the contents of an abortion are debris - not the kind of thing you put into a coffin and grieve over.'

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, Edwards responded: "How dare this man, this elected representative, make such a heartless determination that parents who have taken the heartbreaking decision to end their pregnancies early are not entitled to grieve?

"How dare he demean our precious babies by describing them as debris? I can understand people believing that if they were in our position that they would make another choice, but I cannot understand what would make somebody speak out in such a callous, heartless and cruel manner about other families bereavements."

Mullen, in his piece, spoke about the "heartlessness" of abortion providers.

He stated: "Lately, we have been presented with the sad scenario of people who got a diagnosis of foetal abnormality.

"We were told how tragic it was for them to have to go to England for an abortion, and that they had to use a courier to bring their baby's body back for burial. Doesn't that sad little story, in which a sick unborn baby was denied the dignity of being allowed to reach a natural end, illustrate how heartless abortion providers are?

"Instead of abandoning parents to the cold choice between going to England for an abortion and letting their baby die in his or her own time, shouldn't Irish doctors be helping people to care for their sick child until the end, and to prepare for death and grieving in a dignified way (assuming, of course, that the diagnosis isn't faulty and the child won't live on, perhaps with a less serious condition, to give and receive love)?"

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Edwards, however, writes: "The majority of families who receive a diagnosis of fatal foetal anomaly make the decision to terminate the pregnancy. This involves having to leave Ireland, their doctors, their families, their friends and communities to deliver their babies early. In some cases their babies are buried abroad. For many their babies are cremated and the remains delivered home by courier.

"However, this has become increasingly expensive with some being quoted over £800. Many families now fly back to the UK to collect their remains. This can involve three separate trips - one for the medical delivery, one for the cremation and another to collect the remains.

"When bringing the remains through an airport women and couples then have to deal with airport security and customs. Other families have described having to go to a supermarket to buy picnic freezer packs in which to wrap their baby while they drive, within hours of delivery, to catch a ferry back across the Irish sea and drive home so that they can have a funeral.

"Other women are unable to travel for financial, medical, legal, family, work or other personal reasons. These women are denied an induced labour and delivery because of the presence of a foetal heartbeat, even though the foetal health specialists know that the baby will not survive pregnancy or will die during or shortly after delivery. They know that there is no medical or surgical intervention or procedure that can change this tragic outcome.

"These women must continue to attend their hospitals to check for a heartbeat until their baby dies and they will then be permitted to have an induced stillbirth.

"We are talking about situations where babies are missing brain and skull, where babies have no kidneys, no stomachs, whose lungs will never develop, or have other genetic malformations which have effected them to such an extent that they cannot sustain life outside the womb.

"Parents are told about how their baby's heart cannot cope with the demands being placed on it and that they will get weaker and weaker until they die, that their baby is being crushed by mummy's body because it cannot produce the amniotic fluid it needs to protect itself. They are told "If your baby survives the birth we will have a pain team ready".

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"Most families we speak with describe the incredible loneliness they feel. The sense of isolation and abandonment by Ireland, its laws and its people. They speak of feeling like a criminal simply because they availed of medical treatment in another country which carries a criminal conviction and up to fourteen years in prison if it were provided here.

"Families speak of their fear of discussing their loss with others because they may be judged harshly when what they really need is a hug and kind ears. They speak of the pain of not being able to have funerals for their babies and the support of their community. They speak about the need to scream out "My baby was real and I still love him/her. I am hurting and grieving and I don't know how to cope" - but instead they stay quiet and suffer in silence.

"This is the reality of the 8th Amendment for families living in Ireland. This is the heartbreak and anguish that we as a society inflict on our wives and girlfriends, on our sisters, our cousins, our friends and neighbours, our work and trade union colleagues. This cruelty is being perpetrated on a daily basis in all of our names.

"We in TFMR Ireland decided to speak out, we give our faces and our names. We give our stories - the most intimate and tragic moments of our personal lives. In fact we gave them to Senator Mullen and others in the Oireachtas. We do this because we believe we can effect social and legal change. We believe that the people of Ireland do not want to treat others in this way and we are demanding that our Government provide us all with an opportunity to vote to Repeal the 8th Amendment without delay.

"For this we have been compared to Nazis and ISIS. Our decisions have been compared to the Eugenics practices of 1930s Germany. We have been called baby killers and have been contrasted with "other people who value their babies." We have been called sinners - that the decisions we made were "always gravely morally wrong".

"But this new low from Senator Mullen truly disgusts us. To describe our babies as debris? To say they "are not the kind of thing you put into a coffin and grieve over"? To use language that dehumanises us and our babies? To suggest we aren't entitled to grieve? What is wrong here? What would possess any person to so deliberately and heartlessly attack the bereaved?

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"If this is the kind of love the so-called pro-life campaigners cherish they can keep it. We have experienced love, support and compassion from so many others. We have been touched by love and hugged by people who, like us, want this punishment of other peoples tragedies to end. We'll stick with their love. Humanity and compassion will prevail and we will look back on these comments with the contempt they deserve."

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