Why 200 women in Britain are challenging the police to prosecute them

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 25 June 2015 17:00

More than 200 women have signed an open letter saying they have broken the law – and challenged the authorities to prosecute them.

The 215 women have admitted to assisting an abortion in Northern Ireland, something which remains illegal under British law. Their letter was written in the wake of a court case in Belfast where a woman in her 30s – who cannot be named to protect the identity of a child – will go on trial on two charges of unlawfully procuring drugs to end a pregnancy for her daughter.

The open letter was organised by Alliance for Choice, which said it was "inviting prosecution for procuring abortion medication over the internet". This carries a risk of spending five years in prison according to the Belfast Newsletter, which published the letter.

Speaking to i100.co.uk Mara Clarke, who runs Abortion Support Network, a charity which raises funds for those seeking an abortion in Northern Ireland and Ireland itself, said: "Our fervent hope is that the prosecution of the woman who obtained these pills , and the letter that has been signed by more than 200 people who have obtained these medicines leads to a loosening of Northern Ireland's abortion law. At the very least, we hope the publicity both helps other women find out about the availability of these medicines and raises public awareness of the very human cost of Northern Ireland's abortion law."

A spokesperson for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) told i100.co.uk: "Northern Ireland’s archaic abortion law makes criminals of innocent women, who are forced to take their health into their own hands. We hope that this tragic case highlights the dire need for real change in Northern Ireland. Women should not have to choose between obtaining pills unlawfully online or travelling hundreds of miles in order to access help."

More: This woman was kidnapped, beaten and raped. Ireland still denied her an abortion