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Amnesty says laws must change in Northern Ireland as abortion pill woman faces court

By Staff Reporter

Published 28/10/2016

Patrick Corrigan
Patrick Corrigan

Amnesty International has called for a change to Northern Ireland's abortion law following the news that a woman is being prosecuted for taking 'abortion pills'.

She was reported to the PSNI and charged in connection with using the pills after she sought medical help, according to the BBC.

Amnesty's Northern Ireland chief Patrick Corrigan said yesterday that the fact a woman had been charged and was to be brought before the courts in connection with using abortion pills was "horrifying".

"A woman who needs an abortion is not a criminal," Mr Corrigan said.

"The law should not treat her as such.

"This latest prosecution reveals that making abortion illegal does not stop women in Northern Ireland needing or seeking terminations.

"Those who can afford it, travel to England for the treatment they need - 833 women that we know of made that journey from Northern Ireland last year.

"Those that can't afford it may take medication in an attempt to terminate their pregnancy - without medical supervision or support, and under threat of criminal prosecution."

And the human rights expert added: "Instead of overseeing the prosecution of women and girls for seeking healthcare, Northern Ireland Executive Ministers should bring our abortion laws into line with international human rights standards."

Abortion pills Mifepristone and Misoprostol are on the list of essential medicines of the WHO, Amnesty said.

Amnesty claimed the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland means women and girls take these pills without effective medical supervision, which may result in serious health complications.

In Northern Ireland the maximum penalty for administering a drug to induce miscarriage under the Offences Against The Person Act 1861 is life imprisonment.

In April a woman was handed a suspended sentence by a judge in Belfast after she bought abortion drugs on the internet because she could not afford to fly to England for a lawful termination.

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