“All she ever knew was love”

Charlene McCabe’s daughter Myla was diagnosed with Edwards’ syndrome at 34 weeks.

The multiple complications which arise from the condition mean that life expectancy is short and abortion is offered in many cases.

But for Charlene, the nearly two hours she had with Myla after birth were the “most precious” of her life; time she “will never forget” and “wouldn’t swap for anything else in the world”.

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Edwards’ syndrome is a severe genetic disorder that Charlene says is often described as being “incompatible with life”.

“Abortion is something we would never have considered but I know it’s talked about quite a lot with children with Edwards’ syndrome,” she says.

“I just think you have to give your child a chance,” she reflects. “I think for your own peace of mind, to get through the rest of your life – you always have it in your head that you carried your baby as long as you could and you gave them the best chance in life.

Precious moments

“Abortion isn’t the only option. You can go on to have your child, you can have those precious moments with your child and I think that’s something that will live in your heart forever”.

With tears in her eyes Charlene concludes: “I had an hour and 55 minutes with her and it was the most precious hour and 55 minutes of my life – time I’ll never ever forget.

She is so thankful for that time, recognising that “some people don’t get that”. Speaking about Myla, Charlene says “All she ever knew was love”.

Protections removed

The Northern Ireland Department of Justice is recommending that abortions are allowed where the unborn child is deemed to be “incompatible with life”.

After NI Justice Minister David Ford announced the plans, a woman whose daughter had the same condition as Myla challenged him on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan show.

Her question, “who gives anybody the right to state that a child is incompatible with life because of their condition?” was met with applause from the studio audience.

She said a “better” option for families rather than abortion would be more support for the period just before and after the birth.

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