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Pro-choice woman dares police to arrest her for having abortion pills

By Mairia Cahill

Published 07/07/2015

Leading pro-choice campaigner Goretti Horgan
Leading pro-choice campaigner Goretti Horgan

Leading pro-choice campaigner Goretti Horgan has said she would be "quite happy" for the PSNI to arrest her for signing a letter with 214 abortion campaigners calling on the Public Prosecution Service to charge them for "procuring abortion medication".

In a statement issued to the Belfast Telegraph, Detective Superintendent Andrea McMullan confirmed that police were aware of the letter and were "assessing its contents".

The PSNI also said: "Abortion is a very emotive issue and as police our role is to uphold the law. It would depend on the specific circumstances of an incident as to whether or not an offence has been committed." The open letter, written by activists from Alliance For Choice, was last week issued in response to the news that a woman is to stand trial this year on two charges of unlawfully procuring medical abortion medicine for her daughter.

The woman, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of her daughter, appeared in court in June.

Ms Horgan hit out at the decision to prosecute the mother, and called on authorities to "put us all in the dock" in an effort to "force the PPS to review its decision".

She said: "We hope to get the PPS to look again at whether there really is a public interest in bringing charges like these, or else prosecute us all - don't choose an isolated woman."

Alongside the open letter, activists are considering making statements to police.

"We are talking with lawyers about around 20 of us handing ourselves in and 'confessing'.

"We would actually be quite happy if they arrested us, because it would mean that that woman would not be on her own. We really feel she is a scapegoat.

"We just got such a shock when we saw the article, because in 2013, over 100 of us signed an open letter saying that we'd either taken the abortion pills or had helped somebody to get them, and police did not come near us."

Although women have been prosecuted before in similar circumstances, charges have been dropped at preliminary inquiry stage, making the forthcoming case both unprecedented, and controversial.

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