EMBARGOED UNTIL 9am Thursday 20th September
Judicial Review for NI mother who bought abortion medication for her young daughter, adding pressure on Westminster to remove criminal penalties
Today, the High Court will hear a judicial review of the decision to prosecute a mother from Northern Ireland who bought abortion medication for her then-15-year-old daughter.
The mother was charged after police seized her daughter’s confidential medical records without her consent.
The mother is being prosecuted under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act which has been the focus of intense parliamentary debate over recent months. MPs are planning two parliamentary bids to repeal the relevant sections to protect women from future prosecution.
A coalition of charities including Alliance for Choice are intervening to argue that the prosecution deters other women from seeking aftercare when needed and creates fear amongst healthcare providers who may feel compelled to refer women they suspect of using abortion pills to the police.
A mother is facing criminal prosecution for providing abortion medication purchased online illegally, to her then-15-year-old daughter. We cannot fathom how this has impacted the decisions of those who are unable to travel to England for abortions, but we do know it still affects too many people.
Alliance for Choice, along with a coalition of charities including the Family Planning Association (FPA), the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas), and the Abortion Support Network (ASN) are intervening in support of the mother’s application. We are arguing that a prosecution in these circumstances makes those accessing self-induced abortion with pills unwilling to seek medical advice for fear of prosecution. While abortion medication is safe, there can be side effects; follow-up care in the rare event of serious complications, such as haemorrhage, should be able to be accessed without fearing police involvement.
Kellie O’Dowd, Co-Chair of Alliance for Choice, said:
“The fear of prosecution is currently the greatest health danger to those currently accessing medical abortions online. There is no measurable benefit to society nor to women and pregnant people of enforcing disclosures of abortion pill activity by healthcare practitioners to the PSNI and no public interest in the PPS pursuing such prosecutions.”
Emma Campbell, Co-Chair of Alliance for Choice Belfast warns,
“Right now, we have the opportunity to end the climate of fear for abortion seekers and healthcare providers. The enforcement of this law endangers lives rather than protect them. Despite the funding for those who can travel to England for abortions, we have received calls from women and their friends and family, who are completely terrified. They are not scared of having an abortion, they are frightened of being arrested. This fear compounds the stigma they already face at the hands of our legislative, criminal and healthcare institutions when needing basic abortion care, but worse it means their lives are at risk if they do not seek help when necessary.”
Alliance for Choice currently have a campaign asking people from Northern Ireland to write to Penny Mordaunt, telling her that the voices representing us in Parliament do not express the wish of the people as far as abortion is concerned. Check out #PENNYPOST on our social media and on https://pennypost.carrd.co/ and sign our petition
Contact: Emma Campbell - 078940643965