Belfast woman who took abortion pill after failing to raise money to travel to England is given suspended sentence

Belfast woman who took abortion pill after failing to raise money to travel to England is given suspended sentence

A BELFAST woman who bought drugs on the internet to induce a miscarriage, as she could not afford to travel to England for a termination, has been given a suspended prison sentence.

The 21-year-old – who cannot be named due to a court order – had purchased the drugs online. She consumed the drugs – which caused her to miscarry on July 12, 2014.

The 10-12 week old male foetus was later found in the bin of a house she shared with two other people, according to The Belfast Telegraph.

The young woman pleaded guilty to two charges - procuring her own abortion by using a poison and of supplying a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage – at Belfast Crown Court on Monday, April 4.

A barrister representing the woman told the court that had his client lived elsewhere in Britain, she would not have been brought before a court.

Judge David McFarland gave the woman a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

While delivering the sentence he referred to the contrasting legislation surrounding abortion in the North of Ireland, compared to England, Scotland and Wales.

The Belfast Telegraph also reported that the Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said – prior to sentencing - that on July 20, 2014 the woman’s housemates had contacted police regarding the drugs she had bought online that led to her miscarriage on July 12.

When officers searched the property in south Belfast they found a foetus in a bin.

Mrs McKay told the court that when the woman moved into the house in May 2014, she told her two housemates that she was trying to raise money to travel to England for an abortion.

When she was unable to raise the funds, she contacted an abortion clinic in England, which she claims told her about two drugs that were available on the internet that would induce a miscarriage.

The woman miscarried on July 12, and the foetus and other bloodied items were found in the bin by her housemates the following day.

Unsure what to do, the housemates contacted the police a week later.

The woman was 19 years old at the time of the incident.

Defence barrister Paul Bacon told the court "had she lived in any other jurisdiction, she would not have found herself before the court".

He added that at that time the woman was living in Belfast with people she didn’t know well and when she fell pregnant she felt "isolated and trapped ... with no-one to turn to".

Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, anyone carrying out an abortion in Northern Ireland, except under limited circumstances, can be jailed for life.