Belfast Telegraph

Online appeal raises £6k for women to get abortions in England

By Victoria Leonard

An abortion support group has raised over £6,000 as part of an "emergency appeal" after PSNI raids connected to the illegal purchase of abortion pills online.

The money, which is being raised through a JustGiving page, is intended to enable women from Northern Ireland and the Republic to access abortion services in England.

The move follows searches by the PSNI in relation to the illegal purchase of abortion pills online.

The searches, which took place last week, saw items seized for further examination.

Posting on the JustGiving page, a spokesperson for the Abortion Support Network (ASN) described the PSNI's actions as a "draconian crackdown".

They stated: "Northern Irish police have launched a crackdown on the use of safe but illegal early medical abortion pills.

"As more women fear prosecution, ASN will see a spike in demand for our services.

"ASN is set to see a rise in its case load from Northern Ireland as a result of these World Health Organisation certified pills being harder to come by.

"Please donate today to help us meet the rising demand for our services in the wake of this draconian crackdown.

"We also expect to see an increase in calls from the Republic of Ireland, where abortion is similarly restricted.

"It is a gross injustice that women in Northern Ireland are criminalised for taking pills that are on the World Health Organisation's essential medicines list and that are available on the NHS to those in England, Scotland and Wales."

The group has set a target of £7,960, which it says represents £40 for every client in Northern Ireland that it expects to hear from in 2017.

The Northern Ireland director of the Evangelical Alliance, Peter Lynas, urged against buying abortion pills online.

"To take this unsupervised, to buy them from an unknown source online is incredibly risky," he said.

"Anyone helping to do that is breaking the law and putting women at risk.

"Anyone helping someone go to England is in a grey legal area by knowingly helping someone to get an abortion.

"In Northern Ireland we have a clear law that's not in doubt and if people want to go outside of the law they are taking risks."

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