Northern Ireland

Foetus cooler bag trip: Daughter had 'horrendous' experience

Current abortion legislation in Northern Ireland differs from the rest of the UK Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Current abortion legislation in Northern Ireland differs from the rest of the UK

A man who helped his daughter return her foetus's remains to Northern Ireland in a picnic cooler bag said the experience was "horrendous".

It happened after the woman had an abortion in England.

Her father told BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme it had been a "traumatic day and night".

He said he and his wife had travelled to England the day after his daughter with the cooler bag.

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Media captionGrieving father calls for change in abortion legislation

"We got the foetus and we put it into the cool bag and started driving at two o'clock in the morning up the motorway," he added.

'Awful experience'

"Then the phone rang that she (his daughter) had collapsed and been rushed to the hospital.

"We had to turn the car, drive for 20 miles... turn back down the motorway to go down and see how she was.

"We didn't know whether she was alive or dead. We got to the hospital and she was being looked after really well.

"I had to sit in the car with the engine running to keep the cool bag cool.

"I tried to sleep for a few hours because I knew I was going to be driving immediately and I hadn't slept for nearly 24 hours.

"At six o'clock in the morning we headed home and eventually got to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast about eight o'clock to hand that over to the doctor."

Image caption Dr Caroline Gannon has resigned over interventions by NI's attorney general, John Larkin, on abortion laws surrounding fatal foetal abnormality

Paediatric pathologist Dr Caroline Gannon has resigned over interventions by Northern Ireland's attorney general, John Larkin, on abortion laws surrounding fatal foetal abnormality.

She said the final straw was having to advise the woman and her partner to use a picnic cooler bag to return the remains.

Mr Larkin has said the law surrounding fatal foetal abnormality is under consideration.

"The legislation can be changed if those MLAs - who vote when this does come round - can picture their own daughter," the woman's father said. "I wish this on no-one.

"Mr Larkin, I don't know if he has a daughter, I would hope he would never have to go through what my daughter and her husband went through, what my wife and I have gone through.

"It was horrendous."

'Still burdened'

The man said he "saw nothing wrong in what he did" and hoped that there would now be a change in legislation "because at least something good would have come out of the the most awful experience".

He added that he thought it was "amazing" that his daughter "was able to get on with her life and get back to her work" but acknowledged she was "still burdened by the whole thing".

"We pray every day that she will have the child that she longs for," he said.

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