U.K. woman found guilty, given 3-month suspended sentence, for having an abortion

Pro Choice activists rally outside City Hall on January 15, 2016 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

A 21-year old woman in Northern Ireland was found guilty of inducing her own abortion by buying pills online, and given a three-month sentence that was suspended for two years. The woman was 19 at the the time of the incident and living in Belfast, where she felt “isolated and trapped …with no one to turn to”, according to her lawyer. She told her flatmates, whom she did not know well, that she was unable to cover the costs of a safe abortion in England. An English clinic advised her that she could take mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs available online that will induce a miscarriage. Those same flatmates contacted the police, however, when they found the remains of a foetus in the bin. According to her defense lawyer, Paul Bacon, her case shows the discrepancy between Northern Ireland — where abortions are only legal when the life or health of the mother is in danger — and the rest of the United Kingdom, saying she was  “victimized by the system”.

Amnesty International strongly condemned the case, with Northern Ireland Director Patrick Corrigan saying it revealed yet again “that making abortion illegal does not stop women in Northern Ireland needing or seeking terminations.” He added that over a thousand woman — who can afford it — travel from Northern Ireland to England for an abortion every year, while those who don’t have the means to do this are often left with an unsafe self-induced abortion as their only option, saying that  Northern Ireland should stop “sanctioning women and girls for seeking the healthcare they need”.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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