Two women a week travel after receiving fatal foetal anomaly diagnosis

Event hears figures about reality of FFA cases in Ireland

Top obstetric consultant and bereavement midwife among speakers

Together For Yes also launches ‘Faces Of The 8th’ video campaign

Two women a week in Ireland are travelling abroad for a termination after receiving a diagnosis of complex fatal fetal anomaly, according to a top obstetric consultant at the Rotunda Hospital.

Doctor Jen Donnelly, a consultant in Obstetrics & Maternal Fetal Medicine Speciality, this morning added her voice to growing calls among Ireland’s medical community for removal of the 8th amendment. 

Speaking at a Together For Yes press event this morning, Dr Donnelly said, “Two women every week leave Ireland to have a termination of pregnancy for a complex fetal abnormality. Many of these go to the UK. Over 50% of women in Ireland who receive a diagnosis of a complex fetal abnormality in Dublin or Cork, will travel to the UK or further afield to have a termination of a much wanted pregnancy. These are for conditions such as Edwards Syndrome, renal agenesis (absent kidneys) or anencephaly.  These are women who I, and other doctors like me, can’t give complete medical care to at one of the most vulnerable times of their life. Because of this I urge you to voting yes to repeal the 8th amendment.”

Dr Donnelly also cited figures from the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK which shows that in 2016, 113 women from Ireland had terminations in England and Wales after they received an FFA diagnosis in an Irish hospital.  

“The 8th Amendment prevents me from providing complete pregnancy care to women when they are at their most vulnerable. It prevents me for being there for women when they deliver and it limits me from offering them further investigations such as post mortems which may help guide their care in future pregnancies.”

At the event, Together For Yes launched a new video campaign entitled ‘Faces of the 8th’, a series of five videos involving testimonies from men and women who were directly harmed by the 8th amendment. The video campaign will run for five days.    

The event also heard from Jane Dalrymple, Clinical Midwife Specialist in Fetal Fatal Medicine at The Rotunda, who said: “In cases of FFA, all possible outcomes and management will be discussed. Parents come to their own decision as to what pathway they will take and we support them no matter what they decide to do. They are my patient until the moment they get on that plane, then Liverpool take over their care until they land again in Dublin when they become my patient again. This break in a patient’s continuity of care is unacceptable and highlights the harm of the Eight Amendment.”

Together For Yes spokesperson, Gerry Edwards, who received a diagnosis of Fatal Fetal Anomaly with his wife Gaye in 2001 said: In 2001 my wife, Gaye, and I had our world turned upside down. Our first pregnancy turned in moments from dream into nightmare. We found out that our much wanted baby had no skull or brain and could not survive outside the womb.

“We felt totally alone, we had to make all arrangements ourselves, and on the 12th February Gaye delivered our son Joshua, silently, in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. I’d ask people to repeal the 8th amendment so that other couples in our position don’t have to have their grief compounded by the pain of feeling abandoned by our own country.”

Dr. Siobhan Donohue National Chair of the Terminations For Medical Reasons support group: “I was one of Janes patients in 2011. During my third pregnancy my baby was diagnosed with anencephaly. Myself and my husband were devastated. Our world was turned upside down. We will always remember the compassionate care we received from Jane and her colleagues before we travelled but their hands were tied. They could not offer us the care we needed because of the 8th amendment.”

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