Graham Linehan speaks of personal loss as he campaigns for abortion rights in Ireland

Graham Linehan speaks of personal loss as he campaigns for abortion rights in Ireland

MORE than a decade ago, Graham Linehan's wife discovered the baby she was carrying would not survive outside of the womb.

Helen Linehan was devastated to discover that her unborn child had a condition known as acrania – where the skull does not completely form in the womb.

As long as she was carrying the baby it would survive, but there was no chance of survival after birth.

Now, 11 years on from the heartbreak of an abortion, the Linehans are campaigning for the right to termination in Ireland.

The couple are supporting Amnesty International’s campaign to see abortion decriminalised in Ireland.

“It has a 100 per cent mortality rate,” Mrs Linehan said of the condition her baby was suffering from.

“As soon as it was born it would survive for about an hour and suffer, it’d be terrible and awful and die.”

Though the Linehans desperately wanted a child, they had no option but to end the pregnancy.

They began trying for a baby shortly after their marriage and were elated to discover they were expecting quite quickly.

But their happiness was short-lived.

“It was awful. I was being sick with morning sickness until the very moment I was wheeled into the theatre,” Mrs Linehan said.

“It was very sad but I just praise the treatment and support we were given by the hospital because in other places it’s different.”

“In Ireland, Helen would go to jail for having that operation,” added Father Ted creator Graham Linehan.

Termination of a pregnancy is illegal in Ireland. The only exceptions come under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013.

Under the terms of the Act, a termination is permitted if the mother’s life in in physical danger or if she is suicidal as a result of the pregnancy.

At least 10 women travel from Ireland to Britain every day for an abortion – and about 4,000 per year travel to Britain and other European countries each year.

The Amnesty International campaign is seeking to legalise abortions for all women in Ireland.

“I don’t think it is safe for women in Ireland to be pregnant. Abortion is an important medical procedure and when that’s taken off the table, then you’re not safe. A place without abortion puts two lives in danger, not one,” Mr Linehan said.

“I have always been very proud to be Irish but I am embarrassed by Ireland’s abortion laws. This is just something you can’t be proud of. It’s barbaric.”