It is unjust to end a person’s life because that person is terminally ill. Sadly to date, the media has only presented one side of this story to the public. When people are given an opportunity to hear the stories of parents from groups like One Day More, we will see a huge shift away from seeing abortion as the answer in situations where the baby has a terminal illness or as some people say, a “fatal foetal abnormality”.
The parents in One Day More work in solidarity to cherish the lives of their terminally ill children for the short time they are alive. See www.onedaymore.ie
Some babies diagnosed prenatally with terminal illness will live only for a few minutes, hours, or days. Others are misdiagnosed and survive. We have seen this happen time and again, doctors don’t always get it right. We must really ask ourselves what is the truly compassionate response in this situation.
Perinatal Hospice Care
Families should first of all be informed about perinatal hospice care and be offered contact details of parents who have had similar experiences so that they can lean on and support one another.
A woman recently told her story about her child who lived for 17 minutes. In that time she named her baby boy who was loved for every minute of his life. She held him, kissed his face, baptised him and later she buried him and grieved for him. She said those 17 minutes were some of the most precious she had ever had and she would remember her son and could now grieve properly.
Where abortion is made legal in these circumstances, it soon becomes the only option. For example, in Britain, if parents receive a poor pre-natal diagnosis they are handed an NHS booklet which details what is involved in the abortion procedure.
A Culture of Care
Once we concede that a child with a terminal illness can have their life ended prematurely, this premise will soon open the door as it has in other countries to aborting babies with varying degrees of disability. We have seen this with Down’s Syndrome in the UK where 92% of babies with this particular learning disability are aborted. The figures are similar for babies diagnosed with Spina Bifida – not because they are the most severe types of disability, but simply because they CAN detect them. It is scary to think that as medicine advances and more learning disabilities can be detected, abortion will be encouraged more and more. We need to lobby for perinatal hospice services in Ireland rather than abortion in situations where the baby has a terminal illness.