Women must have ‘adequate support’

Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O'hOisin.
Sinn Fein MLA Cathal O'hOisin.

A Sinn Fein MLA has called on all health trusts in Northern Ireland to offer bereavement support to parents whose babies have died.

Cathal O’hOisin made the call after his Party voted in favour of changing their policy on abortion, to allow terminations in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.

“The decision was fairly unanimous and there was a great deal of support there. The reaction I received was very positive, very sympathetic and compassionate,” said Mr O’hOisin, who had addressed delegates at Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis, describing what it was like to lose a baby to fatal foetal abnormality 12 years ago.

Mr O’hOisin recently revealed here he and his wife were told the baby would not survive after birth and had made the decision to go full term with the pregnancy.

“Our baby was born and died in the same instance, and it was a very difficult time, particularly for my wife, but also myself, and it’s something we have lived with for so long,” said Mr O’hOisin.

The Dungiven man said only the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has a Bereavement Support Midwife that offers support to parents when a pregnancy has not gone as planned, and who specialises in supporting parents whose babies have died, are ill or for parents who have had an experience which they have found difficult.

“We must ensure there is adequate emotional, psychological and pastoral care for all women, whether they decide to go full term or to continue with their pregnancy,” said Mr O’hOisin. “I would call for a Bereavement Support Midwife in every maternity unit in all health trusts to help in cases, not just of fatal foetal abnormality, but also in still born and other syndromes.”

Mr O’hOisin added: “It’s very important women and couples receive help and assistance which, at the minute, doesn’t exist.”