Stop abandoning pregnant women, say parents of baby who died at birth

Gaye and Gerry Edwards say they had to leave the State to allow their son to die

Together for Yes: Gaye and Gerry Edwards were told that their baby could not survive after birth and that their only option was to continue with the pregnancy until he was born. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Together for Yes: Gaye and Gerry Edwards were told that their baby could not survive after birth and that their only option was to continue with the pregnancy until he was born. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A woman who received a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality has urged voters to repeal the Eighth Amendment and stop what she described as abandoning pregnant women.

Gaye Edwards and her husband, Gerry, were addressing the launch of the Together for Yes campaign, which wants to amend the Constitution to allow abortion. Ms Edwards said the couple were coming up to their first wedding anniversary when she learned she was pregnant. But 20 weeks in they were told that their baby would have no prospect of survival after birth and that their only option was to continue with the pregnancy until the child was born.

The couple, who are from Co Wicklow, decided to travel to Belfast, where their baby, Joshua, was delivered at 22 weeks, after an induced labour. They said that they were unable to attend his cremation and that his remains were couriered to them.

Ms Edwards said they were shown care and compassion in the UK but felt abandoned by their own country. “I have often wondered, in the 17 years since, if I had spoken out earlier, if I put my name and face out there earlier, would we be where we are now,” she said. “It haunts me that there are women going through this today, who are currently getting the news that I did, and nothing has changed.”

The couple, who suffered five more miscarriages, now have four children.

Mr Edwards, who told the launch that he had never thought about abortion or the Eighth Amendment until it affected him and his family, said the couple had to travel to another jurisdiction to allow their son to die. “We have our own two teenage daughters now, and we don’t want them or any Irish women to have to travel to another jurisdiction for the care that they should be receiving in their own country.”

Mr Edwards, who is a member of the group Terminations for Medical Reasons, went on: “We have moved on from dropping pregnant women at the laundries, and as a society we need to move on from dropping them at the departure gates, too . . . We are calling on all women and men to move away from our shameful legacy of abandonment and to take this opportunity to share a caring, compassionate society that better reflects who we are as a people.”