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Woman at centre of landmark abortion case targeted by internet trolls

"People call me a murderer"

Published 17/12/2015

Sarah Ewart, who had an abortion in England after learning her baby had no chance of survival, at Belfast High Court , Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Sarah Ewart, who had an abortion in England after learning her baby had no chance of survival, at Belfast High Court , Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

The woman at the centre of Northern Ireland's abortion row has been targeted by internet trolls after a landmark ruling declared Northern Ireland's abortion law is not compatible with human rights.

Sarah Ewart, had to travel to England to terminate her pregnancy when she was given a fatal foetal diagnosis.

Speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan Show along with her mother who has been a great support, said how she was branded a "murderer" on social media, told to 'rot in hell' and has been sent photos of dead babies in the past couple of weeks.

"You don't have to be friends with somebody to send a private message, " Sarah 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 landmark declaration 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 landmark 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 findings, he has increased the pressure on them to act.

Unlike other parts of the UK, 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 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 it can happen again and 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 Ms Ewart 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 with the First and Deputy First Minister, health minister and justice minister in the hope they will implement change in Northern Ireland's law.

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

"Hopefully we will have something. Just starting again."

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