A woman in the United Kingdom has been arrested and charged for having an abortion.
The 21-year-old girl in Northern Ireland has been been given a suspended jail sentence for successfully carrying out a home abortion two years ago, after purchasing the tablets on the internet.
Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK where abortion is illegal in most circumstances. This falls under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, which could hold a punishment of life in prison.
According to BBC News, the only exceptions are if the woman’s life is at risk, or if the pregnancy could result in permanent and/or serious damage to the mother’s mental or physical health.
In Northern Ireland, women looking to terminate a pregnancy outside of these conditions often pay to travel abroad. In this case, the unnamed woman says that she did not have the money to travel.
According to The Guardian, she pleaded guilty before Belfast crown court on Monday. She has been given a three month sentence, which has been suspended for one year.
It was, in fact, her former housemates who reported her for the abortion.
The woman’s defence barrister said that, at the time, she was just 19 and living with people she didn’t really know. He said that she felt ‘isolated and trapped… with no-one to turn to’.
Her lawyer said that she has since had a baby with her partner and is ‘trying to put her life back together again’.
Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Director, told the Huffington Post, ‘We’re utterly appalled by the court’s decision to impose a suspended prison sentence on this woman.’
Amnesty added that the pills used ‘are internationally regarded as a safe and recommended option for terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester’.
This story has sparked further debate surrounding abortion law in Northern Ireland.