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This is the latest in a string of cases surrounding refused abortion in Northern Ireland. Unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, fetal abnormality is not considered grounds for termination of pregnancy in Northern Ireland, unless the baby is judged a risk to the mother’s health.
This latest case hit headlines when Sarah Ewart contacted the BBC’s Nolan show. When Ms. Ewart went for her 20 week scan, doctors could not detect the baby’s head and she was transferred to Ulster hospital for further tests. It was found that the baby had anencephaly, the most severe form of spina bifida where the skull is missing and the brain is dead.
The baby had no chance of survival, but still Ms. Ewart was denied an abortion. Instead she was told to either carry the baby until it passed away inside of her, or she could deliver, for it to then pass away. Either eventualities she described to be “very traumatic”. What makes this case even more complex, is due to the fact that the baby doesn’t have a skull and as such wouldn’t cause sufficient pressure to trigger labour naturally. Instead, Ms. Ewart was expected to return to the hospital every fortnight until the baby had passed away, at which point she would be artificially induced to give birth.
Despite admitting previously being against abortion, Ms. Ewart now calls for a change in Northern Irish law so that medical abnormalities – where the foetus is unable to survive inside or outside the womb – would be permissible.
The Northern Ireland Health Minister, Edwin Poots stated “Issues around the termination of pregnancy can present hugely difficult issues for families…It can be a challenging area for trust staff too. Anyone who thinks these issues are always simple has not given the issue the thought it demands.” He also assured that his senior staff were looking onto Ms. Ewart’s case.
For the full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-24458241