Mother seeks law change after her abortion due to foetal abnormality

‘Ours was a clearly wanted baby’ woman says as she calls for Eighth Amendment to be removed

Laura McGlynn believes a change needs to be made in the Constitution so women would not have to travel for an abortion if her child had no chance of life.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Laura McGlynn believes a change needs to be made in the Constitution so women would not have to travel for an abortion if her child had no chance of life. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

The mother of a child who had a fatal foetal abnormality has called for the Eighth Amendment on abortion to be removed from the Constitution.

Laura McGlynn (36) from Santry in Dublin said she was forced to travel to Liverpool, England for an abortion when doctors informed her that her unborn son Darragh had very little chance of surviving pregnancy.

Ms McGlynn was told by doctors that her son would have Down Syndrome but also cystic hygroma, abnormal growths in the child’s head incompatible with life. She was informed that only five children with the syndrome had ever survived pregnancy and that her child was unlikely to survive past 26 weeks in the womb.

Ms McGlynn and her partner Warren Beatty travelled to a clinic in Liverpool for an abortion which was performed just before she was 20 weeks pregnant in February 2014.

Ms McGlynn was given a drug which terminated the pregnancy but allowed her to deliver the baby. She said the couple would have continued on with the pregnancy if their son only had Down Syndrome. But the realisation that his condition was incompatible with life was another reason why they decided to have an abortion.

The couple was able to have photographs taken with their son who had severe malformations. “Ours was a clearly wanted baby. It was the hardest decision I’ll ever have to make,” she said.

“He was still our son. The midwives dressed him so that we weren’t looking at the malformations,” Ms McGlynn told Newstalk’s Lunchtime programme.

Ms McGlynn said it cost her £1,500 (€1,940) to fly herself, Mr Beatty and her mother to Liverpool for the termination which was performed at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital.

She wanted to end the pregnancy before the 26 week period as he might suffer pain after that. “I could be suffocating him delivering him. I knew he wouldn’t feel much,” she said. She had been in such distress that she even tried to crash her own car to induce him.

After returning to Ireland, she was admitted to hospital with a haemorrhage.

She told presenter Jonathan Healy she had not considered the issue of fatal foetal abnormality before she got pregnant, but now believes a change needs to be made in the Constitution so a women would not have to travel for an abortion if her child had no chance of life.

The Eighth Amendment to the Constitution gives equal right to life to a mother and her unborn child.

“Women are suffering. It can’t be let go on. It is not right that we should be forced out of country to get on a plane to travel,” she said. “By telling my story, I hope I am helping another girl out there. We want our babies. We don’t want to have to leave the country. The reality is that Irish women will have to go to France or Italy to get access to this. There are only two countries, Ireland and Malta, which don’t allow for abortions in medical conditions. We are a Catholic country, but in Rome terminations are acceptable for medical conditions.”

The couple are now expecting another child.