Northern Ireland: A woman seeking an abortion is not a criminal warns Amnesty
Responding to reports today that a 21-year-old woman has been given a three month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to two charges (namely procuring her own abortion by using a poison, and of supplying a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage), Amnesty International Northern Ireland Director Patrick Corrigan said:
“We’re utterly appalled by the court’s decision to impose a suspended prison sentence on this woman. A woman who needs an abortion is not a criminal. The law should not treat her as such.
“This tragic case reveals, yet again, that making abortion illegal does not stop women in Northern Ireland needing or seeking terminations.
“Those who can afford it travel to England for the treatment they need - over a thousand women make that journey from Northern Ireland every year. Those that can’t afford it, as appears to be situation in this case, may take medication in an attempt to terminate their pregnancy – without medical supervision or support.
“By denying access to healthcare services, Northern Ireland is violating women and girls' human rights, as has now been established in Belfast’s High Court.
“Instead of sanctioning women and girls for seeking the healthcare they need, the Northern Ireland Executive should lead the way in reforming abortion laws to bring them into line with international standards.”
The medicated abortion pills are internationally regarded as a safe and recommended option for terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester. The criminalisation of abortion means that women and girls take these pills without effective medical supervision and therefore potentially resulting in serious health complications.