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Amnesty calls latest abortion pills case a 'grotesque spectacle'

A woman appeared before Belfast Crown Court today accused of buying abortion pills for her daughter.

A pro-choice protester holds a box of abortion pills at Connolly Station after bringing them to Dublin from Belfast in October 2014.
A pro-choice protester holds a box of abortion pills at Connolly Station after bringing them to Dublin from Belfast in October 2014.
Image: RollingNews.ie

A WOMAN APPEARED before a sitting of Belfast Crown Court today charged with buying abortion pills for her daughter in 2013.

She cannot be named to protect her daughter’s identity. The case was adjourned until 27 April.

Earlier this week the same court handed down a three-month suspended sentence to a 21-year-old woman who bought abortion pills online in 2014. She did this after failing to raise enough money to travel to England for a termination.

A barrister for the woman said that if she lived in any other region of the UK, she would “not have found herself before the courts”.

Speaking about today’s case, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “Yet again we have the grotesque spectacle of the might of Northern Ireland’s criminal justice system lined up against a woman who simply wanted to access a service freely available on the NHS in every other part of the UK.

Abortion should be a matter for women and their doctors, not judges. Northern Ireland’s abortion law must be changed to bring it into line with international standards.

“Abortion must be decriminalised and women should be able to access free and legal abortions in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.”

Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, noted that women in the Republic face a potential 14 year prison sentence if they have an abortion in any circumstances other than where their lives are at risk.

He said today’s case “reveals, yet again, that making abortion illegal does not stop women from needing terminations”.

Irish pro-life groups are opposed to punishing women who have abortions.

Last week Dr Ruth Cullen, a spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign, told us: “Pro-life supporters have always sought to ensure that the abortionist, not the woman having the abortion, be pursued over illegal abortions.”

The next government, whenever we have one, will come under pressure to hold a referendum on repealing the Eighth Amendment in the Constitution – which gives equal status to the life of the unborn and the mother.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings. 

Read: Could an Irish woman be jailed for taking an abortion pill?

Read: Woman (21) given suspended sentence for taking abortion drugs

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Órla Ryan

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