Belfast Telegraph

Abortion row: 200 protesters ask to be arrested for buying illegal pills

By Lesley Houston

More than 200 people "turned themselves in" to police last night in support of a woman facing trial for buying abortion pills for her daughter over the internet.

The names of people who bought the same safe but illegal medicine for friends and relatives online were read aloud by the Alliance for Choice group in front of Musgrave PSNI station at yesterday evening's rally.

The group said it was doing it to highlight the plight of the woman, who it said was being scapegoated.

The group claims the prosecution was going ahead in order to intimidate women into not breaking the same "archaic" law that dates back to 1861.

It challenged the police to arrest the protesters.

It stated that if they did not detain them, the charges against the woman should be dropped by the Public Prosecution Service as the case was not in the public interest to pursue.

And it said protesters would start to hand themselves in at police stations over the coming months to confess their crimes.

The trial of the woman - who can't be named to protect her daughter's identity - is due to start in September and follows her purchase in 2013 of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, used globally in early medical abortions.

Abortion is only legal in Northern Ireland if a woman's life or long-term health is at risk, unlike the rest of the UK.

Alliance for Choice vice-chair Emma Campbell said the "signatories will start to hand themselves in at police stations and confess to committing the same offence with which the mother has been charged".

The group's Sarah Wright said thousands of women access the abortion pills online every month.

Asked if the PSNI would pursue the signatories on the list, Detective Superintendent Andrea McMullan conceded abortion was a "very emotive issue" but said "it would depend on the specific circumstances of an incident as to whether or not an offence has been committed and each case would be investigated on its own merit".

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