Northern Ireland Woman Sentenced Over Self-Induced Abortion

Photographed by Rockie Nolan
A 21-year-old woman in Northern Ireland has been given a suspended jail sentence for successfully carrying out a home abortion two years ago, using drugs she procured on the internet. The woman's housemates reported her abortion to local authorities days after the successful termination. The woman, who has since given birth to a child, now faces prosecution — because Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. where abortion remains illegal.
According to The Guardian, the woman pleaded guilty in court on Monday, acknowledging that she did purchase drugs online for use in a home abortion. She was handed a three-month sentence, suspended for two years. Her lawyer told Belfast crown court that in no other part of the U.K. would the woman “have found herself before the courts” for choosing to terminate her pregnancy.

The woman had looked into traveling to England to have the abortion, but was not able to afford the transportation costs. After visiting a clinic, she learned about drugs she could purchase online that would induce a miscarriage. After her housemates tipped off the police, officers arrived and found a fetus in a trash bag. The woman's lawyer argued that the woman hardly knew her housemates and felt “isolated and trapped…with no one to turn to.”

The law that makes abortions (aside from some rare examples) illegal in Northern Ireland falls under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and means that women who are found guilty can be jailed for life. It is remarkable that this law still exists, as it continues to outrage many of Northern Ireland's inhabitants; last year, a poll indicated that 68% of people supported the legalization of abortion following a sex crime or fatal fetal abnormality. And yet the law still stands.

A representative from The British Pregnancy Advisory Service called for immediate change: “We call on all politicians to repeal these antiquated, Victorian laws and create an abortion framework fit for women in 2016. We deserve nothing less.”
Advertisement
Advertisement

More from Global News

A ruling last month by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that Iranian women could not ride bicycles because it "attracts the attention of men and exposes the ...
“It’s a special school for me because I was a student there. But I don’t think I can see a way back there now,” she said
For many refugees, the struggle to survive doesn't end after fleeing war-torn Syria. With the help of 17-year-old Khaldeya, we're taking you straight to ...
I want to continue to support female activists, and hope that by starting with a small, singular task like refusing straws, I can encourage each one of you...
Here's your daily cry: A little boy from New York is inviting a Syrian child his age to come and live with him in safety. “We will give him a family, and ...
Natasha Maimba, 14, and Minahil Sarfraz, 15, do a lot of the same things any teen girls do. Maimba plays the guitar. Sarfraz likes to mug for the camera...
Emma Watson addressed the U.N. General Assembly again Tuesday, delivering a powerful speech calling for the reform of campus sexual assault policies. ...
(Paid Content) 2016 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record. How many thousands of studies will have to be published before everyone is on board ...
Michelle Obama appeared at one of Broadway's landmark theaters Monday, taking the stage along with some of the industry's biggest stars. No, FLOTUS isn...
International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her client Nadia Murad are teaming up to sue ISIS. Murad, a Yazidi woman who says she prayed for death ...
Kim Kardashian blasted deniers of the Armenian genocide in a full-page ad in Saturday's New York Times. Kardashian has been a passionate advocate for ...
France just found a new way to reduce pollution. The Associated Press reports that with a controversial new measure, France just became the first ...
One boy's powerful move to promote tolerance and love is going viral. On Saturday, thousands of people marched throughout Mexico to protest President ...
The United Nations has come under fire, as allegations of peacekeepers sexually abusing women and children in conflict zones have continued to surface ...