Holly* was 12 weeks pregnant when, during a routine ultrasound this summer, the doctor told her that the baby would almost certainly not survive until birth. They had detected anencephaly, a fatal condition where the foetus’s skull does not form, a diagnosis that was confirmed by the senior consultant a week later.
“The moment we were told, we knew that continuing the pregnancy was not an option for us, particularly because there’s no ambiguity with that diagnosis — there’s no chance of survival.”
But unlike the rest of the UK, in Northern Ireland where Holly and her husband live with their 2-year-old daughter, abortion is illegal unless the mother’s life is at immediate risk.
Women in Holly’s situation who receive a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality (FFA) — often much later in the pregnancy — are faced with the options of carrying the foetus until it dies and having a stillbirth, or arranging to travel to England for an abortion. In some cases of FFA, the foetus may survive the pregnancy but die shortly after birth.
Holly was left feeling angry about her experience. From 6:30am on Friday, Oct. 19, she will tweet a real-time account of her journey and time in Liverpool, under the username RatherBeHome, in order to highlight the difficulties faced by an estimated 28 women per week who travel from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion.
if you want to help please email your MP and tell them to back the bill for decriminalisation for Northern Ireland abortion seekers, so no-one else has to go through what Holly has been through.