what my miscarriage taught me


I miscarried in early pregnancy. A blighted ovum meant that the embryo hadn’t developed properly. A loss for us. We grieved mightily for what may have been. Like thousands of others, many with multiple miscarriages and much loss. To the rest of the world, miscarriage may be commonplace, a simple statistic, no big deal, but it can be very sore on us.

We were lucky. Girl1 & Girl2 arrived, thrived, and are doing what teens do.

Ireland (the rest of it, not Northern Ireland) is having a referendum soon. I don’t live in the jurisdiction and I can’t vote, but it’s occupying my mind. As it stands, the 8th amendment to the Irish constitution gives equal right to life to the unborn, prohibiting abortion and impacting on medical care to all women, pregnant, pregnancy related or not. The forthcoming referendum is on whether that amendment should be repealed.

There are lots of discussions and campaigning. There is fake news (fake medical practitioners included). There was incredible crowdfunding for posters & information packs. Posters have been put up and taken down and put back up again. It’s not always a polite discussion- feelings and convictions are running high.

One post has caught in my mind; the one asking if a foetus is human, & if not, when does it become so. Years ago, my wee embryo didn’t even make it to foetus-hood. It stopped developing and ended up simply a ‘product of conception’.

It was human tissue, but not a human. Like a toe nail or an appendix, it wasn’t capable of becoming a human. Not all pregnancies can result in human beings. Human life cannot be said to ‘begin at conception’: tissue growth is not life.

The philosophers & scientists do their thinking and their research. They shape and advance our understanding of our world. I am neither of those. There are many issues I don’t understand or am not aware of, but I know that my first pregnancy would never have resulted in a human being. Nor would thousands of others. I don’t know when ‘human ness’ happens, but we cannot assume that it happens from conception.

Most abortions happen before 10 weeks gestation- around the time my product of conception was being evicted. How many people have the guilt and the stress of leaving Ireland or buying pills for a procedure that may have happened naturally? The expense, the uncertainty, the illegality for something not even guaranteed to grow into a human. Surely, appropriate local healthcare must be a better option?

Why would any compassionate society think that was a bad thing?

Why would any compassionate society not permit people a say in their own medical care?

Why would any compassionate society make doctors consult the constitution before their medical expertise?

With the 8th amendment in place, can Ireland claim to have a compassionate society?



This is not a new topic for me. See #oneinfour, this previous post on abortion access in NI and this one on Savita

5 thoughts on “what my miscarriage taught me

  1. I am fortunate that I have not had to endure a miscarriage. Neither have I ever been in a situation where I felt it necessary to contemplate an abortion. But as a parent, a woman of some years and experience in the world, I would have to say that I do think it is only the province of a pregnant woman and her physician to decide what is right on a case by case basis.

    Because this is my belief, I always feel laws that make abortion illegal are amoral. Someone once told me that you cannot legislate morality. If you try, you only create a culture where there is more misery as a result of people trying to do those things anyway, and often in a far more dangerous way. Morality is what holds the fabric of our society together, but there are times when it is somewhat ambiguous. What is amoral in one situation is occasionally perfectly logical and necessary in another. Does that make you worried, uncomfortable, afraid? Good for you. You are a moral person. There are a lot of horrible things that society has to face, that governments and individuals have to do, that are at times 100% necessary no matter how awful they are. Buck up, it’s life. It’s not always pretty. But the cold, hard facts of life are that sometimes the right thing feels very wrong.

    Abortion is a thorny issue, there is no one right choice for every situation. The populace should not assuage their consciences by over-simplifying the issue or avoiding living in an ethical grey area through a law forbidding it. It is never always wrong. It is never always right. That is why we should always have the right to choose. If I had chosen to have an abortion it would be on my conscience, not anyone else’s. The moral ramifications should be between me and my god. Not between me and my legal system.

    Do I think abortion is the worst form of birth control. Yes. But the reality is, not every woman who conceives was in a position to utilize a better form. Some women have to face the horrible decision to give birth to a child who would have so many health problems one could argue not having an abortion is child abuse. Some women have to make the decision between and abortion and the possibility of losing their own life. No sane person wants these decisions on their shoulders, so why do some people insist on making it even harder by trying to deny this sometimes horrible but necessary option to those who really need it?

  2. Such a personal story, Fiona, and thank you for sharing your intimate perspective. I feel so sad when I hear women refer to their miscarriages with a memory of how often those around them respond with platitudes and don’t understand what a tremendous loss and emotional pain this occurrence is to the couple who were hoping for a successful pregnancy.

    I try very hard to understand my many friends who are committed “Right to Life” advocates believing that abortion is murder. I have never been in the position to have an unwanted pregnancy, but I can’t begin to think of legislating for someone else to mandate that they have a baby they aren’t prepared to bring into the world. I believe it’s the woman’s right to choose, and she will do what she feels is best for her. This is an issue that completely divides our country. Here in the U.S., I firmly believe that Trump’s catering to Christian Evangelicals who cling to the hope that he will stack our Supreme Court with conservative judges and overturn Roe v Wade, thus making abortion illegal, is how we ended up with complete turmoil and anxiety in our country. I honestly believe it’s entirely based on the abortion issue.

    I guess we need to stay tuned in both of our countries. I’ll be watching yours as this referendum goes to vote. Thank you for writing about it.

  3. Compassionate Society. What exactly is that (no question mark intended). And by whose morals do we allow to govern our personal choices (holding back sarcasm while looking skyward) . I am rather surprised that such an issue is being put to a vote there….I would not want my rights determined in such a backwards means. The loud and the opinionated seldom have the best interest of others in mind. It is the quiet and peaceful being whom I trust more.

  4. A wonderful post Fiona, and very moving.
    I’m sorry to hear you went through the pain of miscarriage, pain both doubtless physical and emotional. I don’t know anyone who has has an abortion who has regarded it with anything less than sadness. Women do need the right to choose, and to choose in an environment that is non-judgemental and sympathetic whatever their final choice is.

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