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 and Rita. 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?
See more on the campaign here: http://www.save8.ie/my_abortion_story