Here are the abortion stories you will never hear. This is the #RealityOfRepeal
The Save the 8th campaign has launched the #MyAbortionStory platform, which will give a voice to those who have seen what the reality of legalised abortion can mean, including former abortion workers, nurses who have seen children who survived abortion, and women hurt by abortion. Billboards, social media campaigns and leaflets will help to make people aware of the #RealityOfRepeal
Speaking at the launch today in Buswells Hotel, Caren Ní hAllacháin, who is a qualified nurse, said she believed the government had put together this abortion proposal without fully consulting with medical practitioners and without considering what legalising abortion can mean for medical staff, even for those who do not carry out abortions. She told the press conference that she had witnessed a baby who survived an abortion, but had been powerless to help the child because abortion was legal and she was not permitted to intervene.
"I was an agency nurse in Sydney Australia in the early 90s and I was on a ward one night when a woman had come in for an abortion. She was 22 weeks pregnant and had been told her baby had a chromosomal abnormality. I went into the sluice room and I saw the baby, a 22 week old baby boy, in a kidney dish in at the sink where all the clinical waste was flushed. He was small but he was perfect. You could see his toes, his hands, he seemed like he had blond hair. He was the full size of the kidney dish and he was alive. I could see the rise and fall of his chest, he was breathing," she said.
"I was a young nurse and I did not know what to do. Because this was an abortion I wasn’t allowed to intervene, I couldn’t get help for the baby, I couldn’t hold him or comfort him, or get oxygen for him or ask anyone to help him live. To see that baby trying to breathe, and nobody helping him, was so distressing and it will haunt me for the rest of my life," said Ms Ní hAllacháin. "I fear for nurses like me if this abortion proposal is passed, and for the culture it will create in Irish hospitals. I fear that doctors will be expected to sit in judgment on the value of a baby’s life because of a suspected abnormality. There is a heart-breaking reality to repealing the 8th amendment and legalising abortion that is largely being ignored. I never want any nurse to see the heart-breaking reality that I saw."
The abortion proposal expected to be published by the government on March 6th seeks to introduce abortion on demand until 12 weeks, and late term abortion on broad grounds.
Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Save the 8th campaign said: "In every country that has gone down this path there are stories like those we have heard from Caren You cannot have abortion without stories like these, yet these voices are never giving a hearing in the abortion debate in the media in Ireland."
"Caren’s story is not an isolated one, and we have already received six other testimonies in the past week from nurses who witnessed similar events in Britain and elsewhere," she said.
According to the British Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (2005) 66 babies were noted as surviving an abortion and dying in the neonatal period.
- 16 babies were born at 22 weeks’ gestation or later; death occurred between 1 and 270 minutes after birth [Median survival of 66 minutes].
- 50 babies were born prior to 22 weeks’ gestation; death occurred between 0 and 615 minutes after birth [Median survival of 55 minutes with one child living for more than 10 hours after being liveborn following an abortion]
A Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 2010 report on termination of pregnancy for fetal abnormalities references a 2004 study which showed that almost 10% of babies aborted for reasons of fetal abnormality in the West Midlands were liveborn after the abortion.
In Queensland, Australia, figures released by Health Minister Cameron Dick have shown that between 2005 and 2015, 204 abortions with ‘live birth outcomes’ occurred.
ABC news reported that in 2015, 27 babies of five month's gestation survived after an abortion. The Queensland Department of Health confirmed that in these cases, life-saving care was not given to the baby because a decision to abort the child had previously been made, and the baby was left to die.
In relation to the right to conscientiously object, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled repeatedly on the area and has stated that the right to object is not absolute and that states in which abortion is legal have a duty to ensure that women have the capability to access abortion services.
The Freedom of Conscience in Abortion Provision report, published in Britain in July 2016, details numerous instances of objectors reporting their careers being harmed because of their objection to the provision of abortion, and also contains some speculation that public health services are finding it gradually more difficult to find doctors willing to perform abortions. It should be understood that the right to conscientious objection is usually tightly constrained and moving outside of its protection will, and has, lead to termination of employment or disciplinary punishment of some sort.
GPs have already said that they have not been consulted regarding Minister Harris’s proposal to make abortion clinics of their surgeries. Are nurses expected to endure what Caren and Noel have endured under this drastic and radical change to Ireland’s laws, and Irish medical practice?
I saw the baby in the dish. He was breathing...
My Abortion Story
“I believe the government has put together this abortion proposal without fully consulting with medical practitioners and without fully considering what legalising abortion can mean for medical staff, even for those who do not carry out abortions.
I was an agency nurse in Sydney Australia in the early 90s and I was on a ward one night when a woman had come in for an abortion. She was 22 weeks pregnant and had been told her baby had a chromosomal abnormality.
I wasn’t looking after her directly but I was on the ward. The other nurse had gone for a break.
I went into the sluice room and I saw the baby, a 22 week old baby boy, in a kidney dish in at the sink where all the clinical waste was flushed.
He was small but he was perfect. You could see his toes, his hands, he seemed like he had blond hair. He was the full size of the kidney dish and he was alive. I could see the rise and fall of his chest, he was breathing.
I was a young nurse and I did not know what to do. Because this was an abortion I wasn’t allowed to intervene, I couldn’t get help for the baby, I couldn’t hold him or comfort him, or get oxygen for him or ask anyone to help him live.
To see that baby trying to breathe, and nobody helping him, was so distressing and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.
I had to leave the sluice room, and I had to leave the baby there and that was the hardest part of all because I felt I had abandoned the baby.
He was a child, he was a human being. That same evening I heard the baby’s mother weeping in her room, she was inconsolable. I wondered what she had been told, and if she was advised to abort her baby because he was considered imperfect.
There is no dignity in abortion, there is no respect in it, there’s no justice in it.
I fear for nurses like me if this abortion proposal is passed, and for the culture it will create in Irish hospitals. I fear that doctors will be expected to sit in judgment on the value of a baby’s life because of a suspected abnormality.
There is a heart-breaking reality to repealing the 8th amendment and legalising abortion that is largely being ignored. I never want any nurse to see the heart-breaking reality that I saw."
"In the 70s, I was a young naive Irish country girl in London, and I was very happy to be accepted to train as a nurse. As a student nurse, I was certainly not expected to question my seniors about their ethics. Abortion was legalized in England then.
One case which is indelible in my mind was that of a married woman, who was admitted for a termination of pregnancy. She had 2 healthy children and was now pregnant with baby no. 3. She did not want any more children. I was asked to do the medicine round that morning and I gave her the prostaglandin tabs prescribed. Hours later she requested a bed pan and then passed a live foetus approximately the size of the palm of my hand. It certainly was a human being. It had limbs, a head, eyes and a heart that was beating strongly and visibly. The mother saw the contents of the bed pan as did I. The image of that little baby has never left my mind.
Instantly my inadequacies became very real…what to say, what to do with this little human being to be disposed of in the bed pan. My short training did not prepare me for this. I left the covered bed pan in the sluice room and reported it to the ward sister. I then was finished my shift, I asked no questions, I remained silent. I was a student nurse after all, that was my excuse then. At the time life was full of the pressures of studying and working and I tried to block what I saw out of my mind, but this was impossible and all my life since I have visions of that poor, innocent, defenceless baby fighting for life in that bed pan, without dignity, love or concern.
As time went by more and more questions arose in my mind. How did that poor woman feel about her choice? She saw what I saw and I’m sure her memory is more acute than mine. Did she receive any help, emotional or psychological support? I hope so. How was that little body disposed of? I fear it was flushed down the sluice. No acknowledgement of its life or existence. No farewells. No funeral. No dignity. In my training I never heard any policy dealing with this. How can Ireland now want this for our mothers and unborn children? We do not love them if this is all we have to offer.
During my training I witnessed surgical termination of pregnancy (T.O.PS), which were gruesome. I’ll be honest and admit for the majority of it I could not watch and kept my head turned to the wall. The sound of the suction machine I remember vividly and the contents of the pump afterwards. I have nursed mothers who were depressed, crying and weeping in recovery after T.O.Ps, I don’t believe “relief” was the feeling they were experiencing. My heart still breaks for these women to think that the only option they felt they had was one that would end the life of their child. No amount of kindness or compassion at this time could console them. I only wanted to help relieve their suffering but post procedure that unfortunately was not my assigned role.
I saddens me to think that in the UK, almost 9 million babies have been aborted to date. How many of them experienced the fate I observed? How many women are now suffering from their experience? How many were not loved and supported as they needed and deserved? Surely, we can offer women better than abortion in this day of age.
I cannot help but worry about the way our politicians are dealing with this referendum. They have without any consultation with GPs and nurses decided that they will be the ones rolling out this service nationally if the 8th is repealed. There seems to be no consideration of how they may feel about being forced to provide such a service, the mental and emotional impact on them of doing same. Where is their choice? GPs and nurses are the back bone of our health service and deserve respect, not this! They have not considered the needs of the mother in this. Waiting in a packed surgery with parents of sick children, a 15min consultation does not seem adequate of fair to either the woman or GP involved, and are they to experience this ordeal at home, how do they deal with a termination of the type I experienced, a live baby fighting for life. How are these women, especially young and vulnerable women expected to cope with this scenario? It just seems barbaric and ill-considered to me. The arrogance of our politicians is terrifying. I have lost all faith in them. They over recent years seen to be dictating to GP, demanding more and more of them. They are over worked and underappreciated. They deserve better. Women deserve better!
I’m an advocate for reproductive freedom, I am also an advocate for women’s and indeed men’s mental and emotional freedom. We should be exploring the reasons behind crisis pregnancy, so that no woman will ever have to make the difficult decision to end the life of their own child.
Now I am of a generation that the repeal campaign will accuse of only being pro-life for religious reasons, but it is my life experience that has led me to the view that the 8th must be saved, not some religious ideology. I cannot stand by and do nothing while our media and politician attempt to mislead the Irish people. I will therefor canvass every door I can, not to tell people how to vote but to give them the truth about what our politicians are proposing, to tell them what I saw as a nurse, so they can make an informed choice on referendum day."