Kate O’Connell TD and husband felt ‘let down’ as they feared fatal foetal abnormality

Fine Gael TD Kate O'Connell and her husband Morgan arrive for the 32nd Dail at Leinster House, Dublin.

A Fine Gael TD has given an emotional account of how she felt “abandoned” by the State as she faced the possibility of a fatal foetal abnormality.

Kate O’Connell said that she now favours a repeal of the Eighth Amendment before the end of next year, but said she would not be voting for Mick Wallace’s bill on fatal foetal abnormalities next week.

The Dublin Bay South TD yesterday described how she and her husband felt “so let down by Ireland” as they were faced with making a dreaded trip to Britain for an abortion.

After raising the issue in a moving contribution in the Dáil earlier this week, Ms O’Connell yesterday explained that a 20-week scan showed up a serious abdominal wall defect with her unborn child.

“It was very clear that my child had something profoundly not right with it. But you could not tell from a scan what the outcome would be,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

She described the agonising week-long wait for test results to find out whether her child had a genetic defect as well: “We felt so abandoned, I had very little information available to me from the medical profession.

“We thought probably what was coming down the tracks was that it was going to be a genetic abnormality coupled obviously with what we could see was a physical abnormality. But the pain of that week, I genuinely thought that we were dealing with a fatal foetal abnormality and for me the distress, I felt so alone, I felt so let down by Ireland.”

Tests results showed her now five-year-old son Pierce “miraculously” did not have any genetic problems.

But Ms O’Connell described how the couple were left in limbo and without support as the awaited the results.

“My husband was going around in circles going ‘oh my God, we are going to have to get the plane next week and how are we going to go, do we go to London, do we go to Liverpool?’

“My heart was broken with it; his heart was broken with it,” she said.

Despite her experience, she said Mr Wallace’s bill is “bad” legislation which would never lead to a repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

Instead she called for as “timely a process as possible” and said there is a need to provide people with full information before a referendum is called.

“I would like a referendum next week, or tomorrow, but first of all I don’t think it would pass, I think some of that are engaged with this know the story but I do think there is a need there to let people know what we are actually dealing with here.

“I would not like to see this still on the table at the end of 2017, I think we need to sort it out but in a compassionate way,” she said.

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