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Trolls branded me murderer, reveals abortion row woman

By Claire Williamson

Published 18/12/2015

Sarah Ewart outside court on Wednesday
Sarah Ewart outside court on Wednesday

The woman at the centre of Northern Ireland's abortion row has told how she was branded a "murderer" by online trolls.

Sarah Ewart was targeted after a landmark ruling declared our abortion law incompatible with human rights. She had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy when she was given a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan Show, Sarah said in the past couple of weeks she was branded a "murderer" on social media, told to "rot in hell" and sent photos of dead babies.

"You don't have to be friends with somebody to send a private message," she said. "People are sending me pictures via Twitter calling me a murderer and all sorts - posters of how abortion is carried out and what babies look like when they have been aborted.

"It's awful. I don't need to see that.

"I lost my baby; it was a baby I wanted. It wasn't a decision where I just woke up and said: 'I'm going to have an abortion.'"

The judicial ruling could pave the way for a relaxation of the prohibition on women accessing terminations in cases of rape, incest or where there is a diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality.

The ruling came in a challenge mounted by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

While Stormont's leaders are not under any obligation to change the law following Mr Justice Horner's declaration, he has increased the pressure on them to act.

Unlike Britain, the 1967 Abortion Act does not extend to Northern Ireland, where abortions are illegal except where the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

Anyone who performs an illegal termination could be jailed for life.

Following the ruling Sarah said she was relieved.

"I was so nervous. I don't like to say I'm pleased, but I'm relieved.

"We're hoping to move forward with this. We're going to go back to the politicians and see if they are willing to change the law.

"I only shared my story about what happened to us as a family. This to me is not about law changing; it's life changing for me and for other women like me.

"There will be women out there who are going to go through it. I've been told I've a higher chance of it happening again. I hope and pray it will never happen again. But none of us are guaranteed that, and we need that protection here."

Messages of support have been shared with Sarah on social media.

One said: "Appalled to hear of what happened to you on here. Utterly disgraceful. Report them all."

Another said: "You are an inspiration, thank you for your bravery."

Sarah first highlighted her story on the Stephen Nolan Show in 2013. In the new year Sarah is planning to meet the First and Deputy First Minister, Health Minister and Justice Minister in the hope they will implement a change in our law.

She said: "If they would let it go to the Assembly and take a vote, hopefully then we'll get a decision one way or another."

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