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Northern Ireland: A woman seeking an abortion is not a criminal warns Amnesty, in response to latest prosecution

A woman who needs an abortion is not a criminal. The law should not treat her as such.’ - Patrick Corrigan 

Amnesty International has called for a change to Northern Ireland’s abortion law, as it was revealed that a woman is being prosecuted for taking “abortion pills” after seeking medical help.

According to a BBC report, a woman was reported to police in Northern Ireland and charged in connection with using abortion pills after she sought medical help.

“It is horrifying that yet another woman is to be hauled before the courts in Northern Ireland for taking abortion pills which are prescribed free, safely and legally in every other part of the UK. A woman who needs an abortion is not a criminal. The law should not treat her as such.

“This latest prosecution 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 - 833 women that we know of made that journey from Northern Ireland last year. Those that can’t afford it, may take medication in an attempt to terminate their pregnancy – without medical supervision or support and under threat of criminal prosecution.

“Instead of overseeing the prosecution of women and girls for seeking healthcare, Northern Ireland Executive Ministers should bring our abortion laws into line with international human rights standards.”

Medicated abortion pills are internationally regarded as a safe and recommended option for terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester. Mifepristone and Misoprostol are on the list of essential medicines of the World Health Organisation. However, the criminalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland means that women and girls take these pills without effective medical supervision, therefore potentially resulting in serious health complications.


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