A group of Irish women have broken their silence to describe the pain of having to travel to the UK for an abortion.

The four women spoke to the Irish Times about their difficult decision to terminate the lives of their unborn children, due to the severity of the conditions the babies were diagnosed with, in the early stages of pregnancy.

“These were terminations of babies that were incompatible with life,” Ruth Bowie, who travelled to Birmingham for an abortion, told the Irish Times.

When Bowie underwent a private scan in the early stages of her pregnancy it was discovered her baby was suffering from anencephaly, a neural tube defect which meant the baby could not survive outside the womb.

Working as a healthcare professional, she was particularly well-informed about her unborn child’s condition. She was faced with two options. She could either continue with the pregnancy, the baby would die as soon as it was born, or make arrangements for a termination in the UK.

Bowie clearly recalls breaking the news to her mother, whom she describes as a devout Christian.

“She was so shocked – not by our awful news, but by the fact that we had to travel to the UK for a termination . . . Even our own [healthcare] colleagues don’t realise that in our situation, we have to travel . . . I’ve worked in healthcare for long enough to realise that bad things happen to people everyday and that the world is simply an unfair place – but to have to travel like this? That’s cruel.”

“Having to walk around Birmingham for five hours when you’ve just ended your baby’s life, you’ve had an anaesthetic and are bleeding and cramping . . . I believe in a loving, caring, understanding God and that I won’t be damned for what I did . . . I want to say to people who would judge us – Where is your compassion? Where is love in all this?,” she told the newspaper.

Among the other women who spoke to the Irish Times were Arlette Lyons, who had a termination after her baby was diagnosed with Patau syndrome and a cystic hygroma. Jenny McDonald (29) unborn child was diagnosed with triploidy, where the baby has 69 chromosomes instead of 46. The child had no fluid around her and no evidence of kidneys. McDonald had a termination at 25 weeks. Amanda Mellet, was 21-weeks pregnant when her baby was diagnosed with Edwards syndrome and was given a prognosis of death shortly after birth, if not before.

A debate in the Irish parliament took place yesterday over the proposed plans to allow limited access to abortion in Ireland.

The Medical Treatment (Termination of Pregnancy in the case of Risk to Life of Pregnant Woman) Bill 2012  calls for the termination of a pregnancy to be available "where a real and substantial risk to the life of the pregnant woman exists" and to "make provision for the prevention of any curtailment, hindrance or preclusion of such treatment that may arise as a result of the pregnancy of the woman".