These Northern Irish Women Have Asked To Be Prosecuted For Their Abortions

Photo: Mary Galloway
Three women have handed themselves in to police in Derry, Northern Ireland, demanding they be prosecuted for their past abortions. According to the BBC, Diana King, 71, Colette Devlin, 68, and Kitty O’Kane, 69, were accompanied by their solicitor and a statement laying out how, when and why they procured illegal abortion pills. Their aim was to highlight Northern Ireland's repressive abortion laws.

Pro-choice campaigners also circled the Strand Road police station to protest the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, which stipulates that all abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland except in extremely rare circumstances – that is, when a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health. Fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest are not circumstances that merit abortions to be performed legally.

Northern Irish women are able to travel to the UK for an abortion, but are not eligible to have it on the NHS, therefore requiring about £1000 for travel, accommodation and the private procedure.
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"We do now have one law for the rich and one law for the poor," said King in a statement, according to The Derry Journal. "If you can raise the £1,000 to £2,000 to travel to GB for a legal abortion, no-one will bother you, but if you access the nine-week abortion pills online for £60, there's a climate of fear resulting from Stormont [the Northern Ireland Assembly] and the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions] hounding women who are already at their most vulnerable."

The three women were prompted after the prosecution last month of a young woman who bought pills on the internet to carry out an abortion. However, taking drugs to induce a miscarriage without a doctor's consent is technically an offence across the UK.

The women were questioned for three hours before being released. A report will be filed to the director of public prosecutions for Northern Ireland and a decision about prosecution will be made at a later date.

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