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Abortion Story: What It’s Like To Be Irish And Have An Abortion In The UK

A decision on the highly controversial overturning of Roe v Wade – which would see abortion banned across 26 U.S. states and over a quarter of abortion clinics shut down in the process – could be made by the Supreme Court as early as Friday 24 June. Back in October 2019, abortion in Northern Ireland was decriminalised, the changed law meaning that, from March 2020, women and girls were able to terminate a pregnancy without fear of being prosecuted. The changes made to the law were hugely welcomed by Sarah Ewart, who travelled from Belfast to London for an abortion after finding out she had a medical condition and her baby wouldn’t survive the pregnancy.  As women, womb bearers and allies in the U.S. and beyond grapple with the impact of a possible law change in the opposite direction of Northern Ireland, Sarah shares her own painful journey with GLAMOUR.

Jason and I got married in May 2013 after seven years together, and it was later that year we were thrilled to be expecting our first child.

We went to a private clinic for our 19-week scan as we desperately wanted to see the baby image in 3D and find out the gender. But our joy of finding out we were having a little girl quickly turned to worry when the sonographer noticed something wrong with the scan. She couldn’t tell us exactly what it was but I’d need to go the hospital urgently to see a senior consultant.

We anxiously rushed to the hospital to wait for a senior consultant. He told us that there was something wrong with the baby, but we had to return the following morning for further tests and to, ‘prepare ourselves for the worst.’ Shocked and devastated at the news, we went home not knowing what was ahead of us.

Further scans confirmed a diagnosis of anencephaly, which is when a baby is born without parts of the brain and skull. This meant she wouldn’t be able to survive by herself and would die before or after childbirth. My husband and I were a complete emotional mess, and couldn’t bring ourselves to speak. Thankfully my mum was with us to speak with the consultants.

As soon as I got home, I immediately did research into anencephaly and joined a Facebook group of mothers who had been through the same, but had chosen termination.

I also had a grandparent who had a baby with the same condition, but after a very difficult pregnancy, the baby didn’t survive.

It was then I decided that I no longer wanted to continue with the pregnancy. Feeling emotional, we returned to the hospital to tell them our decision, only to be told they could do nothing for us. We just had to continue with the pregnancy, and that was that.

It was a very scary time. We suddenly went from being so happy from buying our first home, getting married and expecting a baby girl, to finding out she was going to die. Worse still, that no professional could help us with our wishes of a termination for fear of ‘going to prison’.

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