Northern Ireland

Second woman faces prosecution under 150-year-old abortion laws

The woman was charged with supplying pills to her daughter
The woman was charged with supplying pills to her daughter The woman was charged with supplying pills to her daughter

Amnesty International has called for an urgent change to the law on abortion after it emerged a second woman is to be prosecuted for obtaining drugs online.

The woman appeared at Belfast magistrates court yesterday charged with supplying pills for her daughter to have a miscarriage.

The alleged offences were said to have occurred at a location in Belfast on dates in 2013.

The Irish News understands that two further cases are currently under consideration by the Public Prosecution Service after files were forwarded by the PSNI.

On Monday a woman received a jail sentence of three months suspended for two years for buying drugs online to abort a pregnancy.

The woman, who was 19 at the time, was reported to police by her flatmates after miscarrying a 10-12 week old foetus after taking pills purchased on the internet.

The judge told the court that the legislation used to prosecute the woman is 150 years old.

The case has sparked calls for abortion laws in Northern Ireland to be changed.

Amnesty International Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan argued that the "criminalisation" of women seeking abortions must end and the law be brought into line with international standards.

"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," he said.

"Reproductive health care must be taken out of the realm of criminal justice and addressed as an issue of public health and human rights. Abortion should be a matter for women and their doctors, not judges.

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