By Susan Gately - 23 January, 2014
Too often abortion is presented as a solution where a baby is diagnosed in the womb with a terminal illness. The balance in the debate must change, said the spokesperson for a group of families campaigning for improved perinatal care and the establishment of a dedicated perinatal hospice.
One Day More is a group of families whose babies were diagnosed with severe disabilities in the womb and acts as a support network for families with terminally ill babies.
At a meeting with members of the Oireachtas yesterday, the group announced their plans for better perinatal care in Ireland, and launched a new website.
“It is really sad that some people think abortion is the obvious answer when a life shortening condition is diagnosed. I believe attitudes would change considerably if more attention was given to the real life stories of women who opted against abortion and chose to keep their babies in these situations,” said Cliona Johnson, from One Day More.
The new website, www.onedaymore.ie, features positive stories of families who had babies with terminal illnesses. Describing these testimonies as “stories of hope and beautiful memories despite the initial heartbreak,” Cliona Johnson said the group were there to help anyone who “finds themselves in this situation”.
The group also launched a new video featuring interviews with parents who opted against abortion following a poor pre-natal diagnosis.
Many members of the Oireachtas were present at the briefing in Leinster House yesterday. Welcoming the group Senator Mary Ann O’Brien said she thought that it was a positive development that One Day More were raising awareness about peri-natal hospice care. “It is long overdue and is something that deserves priority attention,” she said.
Perinatal hospice care supports parents of children expected to die soon after birth. It offers nurses, chaplains, neonatologists, social workers, bereavement counsellors and even a photographer to capture brief moments. Currently there is no dedicated perinatal hospice in Ireland.
Speaking to the press afterwards, Cliona Johnson said the group was committed to delivering “much improved peri-natal hospice care services” in Ireland. They had been fundraising but the project required “some public funding as well to ensure adequate services are put in place. We discussed all this at length today with members of the Oireachtas and we are hopeful that progress can be made.”
The group also said that to date the focus on abortion in the case of a baby diagnosed with a terminal illness was disproportionate and they called for more balance in the debate.
“To date there has been a disproportionate focus on abortion in situations where unborn babies are diagnosed with a terminal illness. That’s just a simple fact. It is time however that some balance was introduced into the debate. One Day More intends to play a big part in making this happen.