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Broken Dolls

Writing.ie | Member Blog

Deirdre Conroy

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Landlady house and the nation must be weary of the debate, the one that suggests Irish women can’t be trusted, are going to lie en masse and pretend they are suicidal.

I bore eleven years of silence and secrecy, haunted by the intolerance of the State and its imposition on a physician’s right to treat their patient with compassion. Having heard the evidence given at the Savita inquest, I could no longer keep quiet and spoke out in my own name about my experience of foetal incompatibility with life, and taking a case against the State at the European Court of Human Rights.

Believe it or not, there are organisations outside this jurisdiction, even over the border, that actually care for women in bereavement of a wanted pregnancy, called ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices). They deal with the shock, grief, anxiety, isolation and confusion arising from the news that your baby is not going to live outside the womb and offer you a choice. Here in the great Republic of Ireland you are simply told to go home and carry on.

Thankfully I’ve had nothing but support since my public interview and praise for bravery where in fact I feel I could have done more had I not been in fear of vilification and retribution and had two healthy sons to rear.

Amidst all this, Racquel arrived with a fragrant nosegay, a heady scent of fresh crocus, which was a wonderful sight except she fell about the driveway way laughing as I greeted her, one strapped leg, one strapped thumb, a bandaged nose and black eyes.

‘You’re like a broken doll,’ she laughed, tears streaming down her cheeks. Eleven years ago, it was through the support of friends that I was able to endure some very sad moments, not least the law designating that I should leave the country. It’s wonderful now that I have friends with whom I can laugh and who care deeply, as I do, for other women in this country.

The interview has given me the opportunity to discuss the matter with my two cost centres, who were at the core of my concern at the time, the born as opposed to the baby not going to be born at all.

Now, as young men in their early twenties, they have a bit of a black and white view of things, philosopher child quotes statistics on miscarriages and neo natal deaths – ‘every child isn’t supposed to live’ he says, ‘that’s not what it’s about, of course nature takes its course,’ I tell him, ‘it’s the wilful ending of a healthy foetal life that’s in contention….. that is the statistic that has to be reduced,’ I say.

Which means quite simply, outside rape and incest, young adults should have contraception foisted on them, thrown at them, stuffed in their schoolbags, whether they like it or not, why aren’t we making it freely available? It’s way cheaper and the accidental alternative. As well as pictures of damaged lungs on cigarette packets, why not a campaign of screaming babies, dirty nappies, sleepless nights? Something has to be done to bring down the annual 4,000 plus figure of women who travel to the UK for an abortion.

He says, ‘accidents happen, mum.’ 

‘I know they do, son, but I’ve never had a car accident (with someone else, ok scrapes with pillars don’t count) because I make damn sure that I don’t want to end up in a collision, being self-employed without sick leave, I couldn’t survive without a car, stuck in hospital, insurance hike, costs I can’t afford, and I drive a fast car. OK, it’s not a great analogy, but something has to be done to bring down that figure.

So tomorrow morning I will do my first radio interview in studio and hope I can add the minority cases of incompatibility with life as a matter to be comprehended in the legislation. Though something tells me there will be a technicality that can’t be got around. Just to ensure that mothers are turned away, sent abroad in distress, in grief for a wanted child and sent back with a coffin in their hand luggage or the ashes forwarded in the post.

Only a broken society would do that to their mothers.

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