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I've helped countless women buy pills for abortion and I'm not worried about prosecution, says pro-choice activist

By Lesley Houston and David Young

Published 06/04/2016

Goretti Horgan, spokeswoman for Alliance for Choice
Goretti Horgan, spokeswoman for Alliance for Choice

A pro-choice campaigner has claimed to have helped countless women buy abortion medication on the internet.

While Goretti Horgan, spokeswoman for Alliance for Choice, said she could not remember how many times she had offered help to secure pills that induce a miscarriage, the number was in "double digits" and more than 20.

She added she was unconcerned by the possibility of legal action being brought against her.

"Not only are none of us particularly worried about this, we have stood outside police stations reminding police we signed letters giving them our names and addresses," the campaigner said. "We want the law sorted on this."

Her claim came as the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) insisted it was right to bring a case against a woman later found guilty of buying from the internet pills to induce a miscarriage.

"The test for prosecution has two elements," said a PPS spokesman. "It involves an assessment as to whether the evidence provides a reasonable prospect of conviction, and also if prosecution is in the public interest.

"In this particular case it was decided, having carefully considered all of the relevant evidence and information, that both elements of the test for prosecution were met.

"A range of factors were relevant to the balancing of the public interest, including the important fact that the law in Northern Ireland makes the conduct in question a serious criminal offence in respect of which a conviction carries the potential of a significant custodial sentence."

But Amnesty International said it was "appalled" that the woman had been convicted.

Patrick Corrigan, the organisation's Northern Ireland director, added: "A woman who needs an abortion is not a criminal, and the law should not treat her as such.

"This tragic case reveals, yet again, that making abortion illegal does not stop women in Northern Ireland needing or seeking terminations."

However, Precious Life director Bernadette Smyth claimed the presiding judge had been too lenient.

"The woman in this case accepts that she committed a crime by procuring her own abortion by purchasing abortion pills online," she said.

"Precious Life is very shocked that this judge's sentencing was so manifestly lenient in respect of such a serious crime, and is very concerned that this court judgment could set a very dangerous precedent for similar cases."

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