Michael Cameron: Stop governing NI like a religious sect

Michael Cameron
Michael Cameron

I’m casting my mind back to a Saturday morning in May in 1997 when my lie-in was interrupted by a knock on the door at around 7.30am.

Bleary eyed, I threw on my dressing gown and went down to see what crisis was about to unfold, only to see a smiling postman holding a package. After I had signed for it and chatted to him for a minute or two, I closed the door and headed off to make some coffee whilst wondering what was in the package.

I had only taken a few steps when I stopped, frozen to the spot, realising that the little box I was holding in my hand contained my daughter’s ashes.

That moment in time and the weeks which led up to it are of course burned into my memory forever. All grief is painful but the loss of a child is just so numbing that it becomes a part of you which you carry for the rest of your life.

In 2015 my daughter’s death would be deemed a fatal foetal abnormality. Back then it was simply a family tragedy which unfolded in the ward of a hospital. The support we received from nurses and professional clinicians was remarkable and in the midst of shock and trauma they gently talked us through the scan findings and what options were available. There was no hope for our daughter and my only thought at the time was to lessen the suffering for everyone involved, including the tiny baby who would never survive birth.

The decisions taken back then were made based on medical advice at a time when I could barely see through my tears let alone be capable of reasoned thought, but I trusted the doctors and accepted their guidance.

Now, thanks to another failure of politics, we are talking about guidance and guidelines and are forced to watch on our screens the continued hurt of families who are trapped in their own personal nightmares because they are unfortunate enough to be pleading their case in Northern Ireland. In this place that compassion has forgotten, real life issues are blissfully ignored in favour of flags and side deals whilst many politicians know no humility and come pleading for our votes every few years.

It appears that this time though the politicians have taken the electorate for granted just once too often. We are simply tired and weary of watching from the sidelines whilst they indulge themselves in splendid isolation.

I know however that some do care and do listen and I urge them to once and for all stop governing this place as if it were some kind of religious sect. Please, act immediately and listen to those professionals who have told you honestly and plainly that the current guidelines aren’t good enough and no matter how many times they are revised, will be open to abuse.

No one wants abortion on demand, but those affected by this tragedy simply want the right to seek medical opinion and be free to act on whatever advice is offered without fear of stigmatisation or political and religious harassment.

Mr Cameron is a DUP member.

See also: An emotional account from one woman on why she does not want abortion law changed.