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Online trolls vilify women for reporting foetus in bin after Northern Ireland housemate took abortion pills

By Deborah McAleese

Published 07/04/2016

Yesterday’s front page story
Yesterday’s front page story

Two former housemates of a teenager who took abortion drugs to self-terminate her pregnancy have said they are being treated like "monsters" by online trolls for contacting the police.

The women called the authorities for advice after they discovered a foetus inside their bin.

On Monday their former housemate received a suspended prison sentence after she pleaded guilty to procuring her own abortion by using a poison.

She told the women she had ordered the pills online because she could not afford to travel to England for a termination.

Since her prosecution her ex-housemates have become a target of abuse for online trolls.

"What people are saying about us is just crazy," one said. "There are people who are supportive of us and understand why we felt we had to contact the police, but there are others who are saying the most horrible things about us.

"I would love to know what all the critics would have done had they found themselves in the same situation.

"There was a fully-formed baby in our bin with little toes and fingers. Could they really have emptied that bin?

"We phoned the police for advice. We weren't reporting her. We hadn't a clue it would be treated as a crime at the time."

The women spoke out earlier this week in a bid to explain their side of the story.

They said they called police eight days after their housemate disposed of the male foetus in the household bin.

"On bin collection day I couldn't bring myself to put the bin out," one of them said. "I didn't want to throw a baby away."

The pair have since been vilified for their actions and have been accused of being "spiteful".

"People are making it out that we are monsters," one said. "They are trying to make this part of the abortion debate. I'm trying to get people to understand that's not what we are about.

"People are saying we are looking for sympathy. We are not. We were trying to explain why we contacted police. What people are saying is insane. They don't care what their abuse is doing to us."

GP Dr Anne McCloskey, an independent Assembly candidate for Foyle, has also been attacked over comments she made saying women's liberation had done females a disservice.

She said yesterday she was not anti-women, adding: "This issue is never black and white and it is a very emotive one. We will never have consensus on it, but is not an issue for the law or the police."

The criminalisation of the woman, who was 19 at the time and could not afford to travel to England for an abortion, has been criticised by human rights campaigners.

It has also reignited calls for a change in Northern Ireland's "archaic" abortion laws.

The woman was given a three-month jail sentence, suspended for 24 months, after admitting two offences - procuring her own abortion by using a poison, and supplying a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage.

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