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Case shows abortion law must be reformed

The case of the young couple, dragged through the criminal justice system and eventually cautioned, highlights the urgent need for abortion law reform in Northern Ireland.

The couple, aged in their 20s, purchased medicines to procure an abortion back in 2015.

They were charged under the Offences Against the Persons Act - legislation which dates right back to 1861.

This young couple are victims of archaic Northern Ireland abortion laws and lack of political progress more generally.

They are not criminals. They simply had no access to safe, regulated abortion in Northern Ireland.

The court heard that the young woman is suffering from mental health problems and has a history of self-harm.

Thankfully, her identify and that of her partner was protected to offer her some safeguarding.

Surely, a criminal investigation is not in the public interest under these circumstances?

Furthermore, GPs and A&Es provide care for people in connection with misuse of drugs each and every day.

I wouldn't expect the PSNI to investigate these patients, or their care-providers, and the PPS to drag them before the courts - indeed, this would cause the criminal justice system to fracture.

So, how was it in the public interest to arrest this young woman and her partner for attempting to procure an abortion?

I have worked on abortion law reform since I was elected to the Assembly last May. Unfortunately, this work is on hold because of the RHI-precipitated Executive collapse.

I'll be back on the electoral trail very soon. While I love spending time in south Belfast and engaging with the people every day, I'd rather be representing their interests up at Stormont.

The Executive has wasted time, money and the opportunity to provide stable government.

It's people like this young couple who ultimately suffer as a result as the politics of waste.


MLA for South Belfast

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