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Three Families: Viewers Sobbing Over 'Powerful' Ending Of BBC Drama

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Three Families: Viewers Sobbing Over 'Powerful' Ending Of BBC Drama

BBC's Three Families came to a dramatic conclusion last night, and the final episode left just about everybody in bits.

The show portrayed the devastating effect the laws had on three different women between the years of 2013 and 2019 - before Northern Ireland abortion legislation changed.

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Viewers met Theresa - whose teenage daughter Orla fell pregnant; Hannah, a young woman trying to conceive, and Rosie, an older woman whose unborn child had a genetic condition.

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The emotional series ended with Rosie (Genevieve O'Reilly) discovering that her unborn daughter had an underlying condition which meant she wasn't going to survive when she was born.

From then on, a powerful message about Northern Ireland's stringent abortion laws played out, with paramedics shutting down a suggestion from David (Prasanna Puwanarajah) that a termination of pregnancy was acceptable, seeing as the baby's birth was going to impact Rosie's physical or mental health.

Despite "carrying a baby with no chance at life", and having a turbulent mental health history, doctors stated that she didn't fit the criteria.

Rosie heartbreakingly loses her baby on the beach (Credit: BBC One)
Rosie heartbreakingly loses her baby on the beach (Credit: BBC One)
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Heartbreakingly, what followed next was a scene of Rosie losing her baby on the beach.

As the episode went on, there were more gut-wrenching scenes to follow.

Orla (Lola Petticrew) and her mother Theresa (Sinéad Keenan) were also seen to clash over her decision about her baby, meanwhile, Hannah (Amy James-Kelly) is on a crusade to change the law surrounding abortion in her country.

When she finds out about what happened to Rosie's baby, Hannah ventures to Westminster, where she passionately tells her story.

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But the fact there are others with vastly different opinions is made starkly obvious by the presence of pro-life campaigners, who are there protesting, too.

Hannah's fight for abortion laws to change was all too resonant for many (Credit: BBC One)
Hannah's fight for abortion laws to change was all too resonant for many (Credit: BBC One)

Theresa's trial is also a focal point of the episode, after her decision to give teenage Orla pills to terminate her pregnancy.

She was cleared of all charges, following insufficient evidence, and in an emotional speech, she said: "I find it hard to put into words how I am feeling.

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"For the first time in six years I can go back to being the mother I was without all this hanging over me every minute of every day and I can finally move on with my life."

Reconciling after the trial, the mother and daughter duo declare it is "the first day of the rest of their lives".

We then see Hannah telling her husband Jonathan (Colin Morgan) about her pregnancy, while Rosie and her husband head back to the beach, where they decide they won't be trying to have another child following everything they've been through.

Theresa's court hearing had people in tears (Credit: BBC One)
Theresa's court hearing had people in tears (Credit: BBC One)
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Taking to social media after watching the emotional show, one viewer wrote: "Gosh the ending basically saying women still travel to England to have an abortion because Northern Ireland still aren't facilitating it. Awful #ThreeFamilies".

While another wrote: "What an ending. So powerful. True stories yet hard to believe #threefamilies".

A third penned: "The final episode of #ThreeFamilies is dreadfully heartbreaking. We cannot continue to fail our women in NI. This has always been a human rights issue. @RobinSwannMoH please please commission appropriate services for women in need of care."

"Final frames of #ThreeFamilies," said a fourth, sharing pictures from the beach scene. "So much more attention is needed to sustain the fight for abortion in NI.

"This is still an issue and decriminalisation was just the first hurdle faced by those seeking free, safe, legal and local abortions, it's a human right not secularisation".

"Just watched #ThreeFamilies Brilliantly made and heart wrenching stories. Certainly gave me a few tears," another wrote.

The ending was emotional for Orla and Theresa (Credit: BBC One)
The ending was emotional for Orla and Theresa (Credit: BBC One)

Three Families is from the makers of 2017 show, Three Girls - which told the horrific true stories of sexual abuse and child grooming in Greater Manchester.

The show also focused on real life events, honing in on three different women who have all been affected by the abortion laws in Northern Ireland.

In October 2019, abortion became legal in Northern Ireland, but prior to this, it was a criminal offence in the majority of circumstances. In many cases, women had to travel to England for a termination.

You can watch both episodes of two-parter Three Families on BBC iPlayer now.

Featured Image Credit: BBC One

Topics: BBC, TV News, TV Entertainment, abortion

Joanna Freedman
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