‘I begged the staff to let me end the pregnancy to save the baby’ – one woman’s story
Asked for her thoughts on concerns expressed by some that women may feign suicidality to gain an abortion under the proposed legislation, she says: “You couldn’t have pretended what I went through. I know that for definite. You can’t fake those tears.
“You cannot assume that the majority will be manipulative, legislate for that majority and ignore the minority who are genuine. You have to focus on the ones who are genuine and you have to trust the psychiatrists to be able to make their assessment.
“I think mass manipulation, which is what the slippery slope argument is premised upon . . . denies the skill of psychiatrists to assess whether the risk is ‘real and substantial’.
“It ignores the legal restrictions, such as unanimity among psychiatrists and termination as the last resort. And it implies that doctors and psychiatrists will act without considering the unborn, changing our culture.
“That doesn’t tally with my experience of compassionate, expert care.”
She found listening to the Oireachtas hearings on abortion “really painful” and is confused by polls which suggest people would favour abortion in circumstances of rape and incest more than in cases of suicidal intent.
“It seems there’s an underlying assumption that suicide is a manipulative thing, a selfish thing . . . It’s not.
“It’s the act of an unwell person or . . . of a person who has lost all perspective . . . who is in despair. If you are seriously unwell, you need compassion, not that kind of judgment.
“Suicide is not the answer. But recovery must become an easier choice. We must invest more in our mental health services, by providing, for example, mother and child units for postnatal psychiatric care.” she adds.
Joanne stresses the most important thing is for women to know that recovery is possible and help is available.
“My own good news is that I have managed to survive that tortuous pregnancy and have a wonderful family. I will always have to manage my ruminations, obsessions, anxieties and despair.
“I know I might always get violent, intrusive thoughts, but I am hoping that recovery continues to be possible and I manage to live to see my grandchildren and possibly my great grandchildren.”
*Name has been changed.