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Great Britain. Jail for taking abortion pills after the legal date

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A 44-year-old British woman has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for taking abortion pills after the legal limit. According to the prosecution, the woman knew she was over 24 weeks pregnant, but she lied to an abortion institution to send her the appropriate pills. The case caused a stir in the Islands.

Judgment of the court in Stoke-on-Trent in the middle England fell on Monday. According to it, a 44-year-old mother-of-three was sentenced to 28 months in prison for taking abortion pills after the legal limit, CNN reports. The woman is to spend half of her sentence in prison, and the court decided to suspend the execution of the other half. The 44-year-old pleaded guilty in March.

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She lied to the abortion agency

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According to the prosecutor’s office quoted by CNN, the woman became pregnant in 2019, and between February and May 2020, she searched the Internet for information on topics related to abortion. On May 6, she spoke to an employee of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), an organization that helps women to terminate pregnancies. The prosecutor’s office also said that during the pregnancy, the woman did not attend check-ups with the doctor because she was “ashamed” that she did not know exactly what stage of pregnancy she was at. In this way, she lied to BPAS and told the institution that she was in week 7, the prosecution claims. On this basis, the facility sent her abortifacient drugs to be used at home.

Five days after taking the pills, she went into labor, but after being rushed to the hospital, the baby died. According to British media, the cause of death was given as a miscarriage after the mother took abortifacient drugs. Only after the autopsy of the child, it turned out that the woman was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.

According to the court quoted by the Guardian, the convicted woman felt “very deep and sincere remorse” and was tormented by guilt. However, it was found that the woman knew her pregnancy was over 24 weeks, but deliberately lied to gain access to an abortion. The judge also said that had she pleaded guilty earlier, the entire sentence could have been suspended.

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Discussion on abortion law in Great Britain

According to the National Health Service (NHS) in England, Scotland and Wales, abortion is legal up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, termination of pregnancy is possible in limited cases, for example if the mother’s life is at risk or if the baby is known to be born with a serious disability. Up to the 10th week, it can be done on your own at home with the help of abortion pills, but after the 10th week it is carried out in a hospital or appropriate clinic. The Guardian reports that the procedure for sending pills home by post was introduced during the pandemic and is possible after remote consultation.

The case caused a stir in the UK and revived discussions about reforming abortion laws in the country. Caroline Nokes, chair of the House of Commons Equality Committee, told the BBC that the judgment was based on the 1861 Offenses Against the Person Act, which she said was “obsolete”. She stressed that the parliament should start a debate on changing the abortion law. According to the document, women who use “drugs or devices” that are “unlawfully used” to induce an abortion could face up to life imprisonment.

“Over the past three years, there has been an increase in the number of women and girls traumatized by lengthy police investigations and facing life imprisonment because of our archaic abortion laws,” said BPAS chief Clare Murphy.

Main photo source: Ivanko80/Shutterstock

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