I am writing on behalf of the support group One Day More, to make a plea of candidates running in the constituencies of Galway East and West in the upcoming election.
One Day More is a support group for parents and families of babies diagnosed with life-limiting and terminal conditions while in the womb.
We offer support to all families and particularly to those who decide to continue with their pregnancy and spend time with their baby, however brief that time may be.
Too often, it seems as if there is no room in the abortion debate for our stories. We hear a lot from politicians and campaigners about the need to introduce abortion for babies diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses, but we don’t hear other stories, stories of hope.
We don’t hear about the families who were told that their babies would not survive to birth, only to discover that this diagnosis proved incorrect and their babies have not only survived; they have thrived.
We don’t hear from the mothers who say that they cherished every day of their pregnancy in a special way once they received their diagnosis, aware that each day could be their last opportunity to wake up to the sensation of their baby’s heartbeat.
And we don’t hear about the real fear of so many families in our group – that if abortion is introduced for these seriously ill babies, then many parents will feel pressured to take that route and will not be encouraged to continue with their pregnancy and have the opportunity to meet their baby.
What many people forget is that something as simple as meeting with other families who have been through the same experience can help parents feel that they can face this challenge and continue with their pregnancy.
We do not value our healthy children based on how long they live, and we should not apply this standard to babies who are seriously ill.
This, then, is what we are asking of candidates at this time. When you comment on the 8th Amendment and the campaign to have it repealed, think about how hurtful it is to hear your baby described as “an abnormality” and not a baby who needs love and cherishing for however long they live.
Think about how hurtful it is to hear people talking about repealing a provision that provides unique legal protection to our unique children. And think about what you can do as a candidate to help families in our situation – one suggestion we would make is to campaign for an increase in perinatal palliative care services.
The Irish Medical Organisation passed a motion at their AGM calling for an improvement in this area last year, but no politician has taken up this cause, which would greatly improve the support families receive.
It is surely no less than they deserve.
One Day More.