Belfast Telegraph

I know pain of losing a baby... we need compassion, not judgment

By Lisa Smyth

In exactly one month the Republic will go to the polls to vote on whether its strict abortion laws should be liberalised.

You only have to look at the daily commentary since the referendum was announced to see that it is a highly emotive subject.

Anti-abortion campaigners are frequently branded religious zealots, while those who are pro-choice are accused of supporting the murder of innocent and defenceless babies. Now officials in Northern Ireland have recommended that women carrying a baby with a fatal foetal abnormality (FFA) should be allowed a termination. I have no doubt there will be similar hysteria here as there has been south of the border.

But when it comes to babies diagnosed with FFA we need balance, we need compassion and we need to reserve judgment on decisions taken by women who are in the most horrific position imaginable. I lost a baby with a FFA in February 2016. He died before he was diagnosed and I look upon this as a mercy. Losing my son has been the most painful and harrowing experience of my life, but I know that having to decide between continuing with the pregnancy or travelling to England on a journey that would have been shrouded in secrecy and shame would have been too much for me to bear.

I often wonder which path I would have chosen to take had I been put in that position. I can honestly say that I still have no idea what I would have done and I will be forever grateful that the decision was taken out of my hands.

Tragically, this is not the case for every woman pregnant with a much-longed for baby that turns out to have a FFA.

It breaks my heart to think that the parents of these babies are damaged further by the attitude that abortion is black and white.

I am in awe of women who continue with a pregnancy knowing their baby will die.

At the same time, I have just as much respect for a woman who feels they cannot go through a pregnancy knowing the trauma that lies ahead. To me, it is the most personal and life-changing decision a woman can make - and should be hers and hers alone.

Belfast Telegraph

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