Belfast Telegraph

Woman who had abortion in England encourages DUP to rethink its position

By Mark Bain

A woman who aborted her baby after being told her daughter would not survive has urged DUP politicians to "walk a mile in her shoes".

Sarah Ewart, who had to leave Northern Ireland for a termination in England in 2013 in the most "traumatic" of circumstances, was responding to the DUP saying the party would use a Petition of Concern should any change in legislation on abortion be brought before a Stormont Assembly in the future.

And Sarah revealed she has written to Prime Minister Theresa May asking for her government to intervene to help women left facing her "crisis pregnancy" situation.

Sarah was forced to travel out of Northern Ireland for an abortion because of a fatal foetal abnormality. "Nobody's talking about abortion on demand," she said. I'm talking about fatal foetal abnormality. That's my experience, so don't judge me until you've walked a mile in my shoes.

"As a family we would have been ill-informed. We were probably judgemental about abortion too until this landed at our door. We heard the word abortion and not for one minute would we have thought it was for a medical reason.

"This is a very small change we need.

"Yes, it's a relief that women can now go to Dublin. But we still need the services here, in our hospitals. It's more traumatic and devastating having to travel anywhere, so having it at home is a much better situation." She continued: "I found myself, at 19 weeks, with a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis, so my baby wasn't going to survive - there was no procedure or medication that could have been given to her so I decided that I wanted to end my pregnancy. But unfortunately nobody could help me here and that was a very scary situation.

"I have nothing to remember my daughter by. I didn't think of those things at the time - there's no information available. We need the change here. We need help. I fully support any woman who has to go through it and I totally agree that more care needs to be available. But what people need to realise is that there are people like me who don't want to suffer going through a pregnancy. They need help and they need support.

"I had a previous meeting with Mr Wells where he said the births were not difficult, that sometimes consultants got it wrong and I could have been carrying a baby that could have survived. I find that appalling.

"This is about medical care. We need to be at home, with our family around us. If it's good enough to send us away, why is it not good enough to have these procedures here?"

Sarah has fought a long legal battle to liberalise abortion law in Northern Ireland in the face of opposition from the DUP.

Northern Ireland will be the only part of the UK or Ireland where the procedure is largely outlawed after the Republic voted overwhelmingly for change in the referendum at the weekend.

Sarah said: "I'm five years down the line now and I should have had this dealt with at the time, privately in hospital in Northern Ireland. Nobody should have known about this, but here I am, still getting calls from people who want this treatment and can't get it.

"Scans have moved on, we need to trust our consultants. There is a massive difference in going to a clinic wanting to lose a baby and being sent away to a clinic to lose a baby you wanted so much.

"It is so much more traumatic than it needs to be. It is devastating.

"I was offered as much support as possible in Northern Ireland, but at the end the medical professionals had their hands tied. They could not be there when I was travelling."

Belfast Telegraph

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