Wednesday 20 June 2018

'I felt my heart had been ripped from my chest' - devastated mum

Vicki Casserly believes the Eighth Amendment must be repealed. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Vicki Casserly believes the Eighth Amendment must be repealed. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Dublin councillor Vicki Casserly was left "crushed" when she received the tragic news that the baby she was carrying would not survive to full term.

She said that when her doctor delivered the diagnosis: "I felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest."

Now, four years later, the Fine Gael councillor said her personal experience has framed her view on the upcoming abortion referendum.

Fortunate

She said she could have found herself among parents who decide to travel to Britain for a termination in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

The Lucan woman considers herself fortunate that it didn't come to that in her case.

But Ms Casserly believes the Eighth Amendment must be repealed so that women who find themselves in similar circumstances will be able to have an abortion in Ireland.

Allowing abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality is among measures in legislation being proposed by the Government should the "Yes" vote win the referendum.

Mum-of-two Ms Casserly revealed her experience in a Twitter message in response to a post from the Together For Yes Campaign highlighting cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

In the post she said it was "heartbreaking knowing the inevitable was to happen but legislation wasn't there to support my failing pregnancy and give me the access to the care I needed". She said this is why she was supporting repeal.

Ms Casserly first learned there was something wrong around six weeks into her pregnancy in 2014.

The baby's heart wasn't developing as it should have been and she said that all the consultant could offer was frequent scans to monitor the situation.

Just under three months into the pregnancy the baby's heart stopped beating and Ms Casserly suffered a miscarriage.

But prior to that she said that she and her husband did consider the possibility that they would need to travel for a termination.

There had been concerns for Ms Casserly's own health due to her rare blood type and a risk of haemorrhaging.

Ms Casserly's son has special needs and as his carer, she said: "I wouldn't have been putting myself at risk for something I knew to be inevitable."

She also feared the distress of continuing with the pregnancy in which the baby had no chance of survival, and said it would have been "emotional torture" to have to travel for an abortion.

She said in such circumstances she would have wanted her family around for support.

"I don't think I'll ever forget what I went through," Ms Casserly said.

"I certainly wouldn't like to see others in that situation."

She has had another son since, but still has the framed scans of the baby she lost.

"I can't always look at them but I know they're there," she said.

She added she understands why opponents of a "Yes" vote want to save the Eighth Amendment, saying: "I value the sanctity of life."

But she said she values choice and believes the Constitution should empower people to make the right choices for themselves.

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