UK: Jailing of mother-of-three for using abortion pills ‘terrifying’

Responding to news that a 44-year-old woman in Stoke-on-Trent has been sentenced to 28 months in prison for using abortion pills after the legal time limit, Chiara Capraro, Women’s Human Rights Program Director at Amnesty International UK, said:

“It is shocking – and quite frankly terrifying – that in 2023 a woman in the UK has been sentenced to jail because of a law dating back to 1861.

“Access to abortion is essential healthcare and should be managed as such. This is a tremendously sad story and underscores the desperate need for legal reform in relation to reproductive health.

“Four years ago, Northern Ireland was the first part of the UK to decriminalise abortion. It is high time that the rest of the UK does the same to guarantee the protection of women’s fundamental right to health.”

Essential healthcare

The unnamed mother-of-three received abortion medication under the “pills by post” scheme, which was introduced during the Covid pandemic.

She will serve half of her sentence in custody and the remaining under licence.

The scheme allowed medication to induce an abortion to be supplied after a remote consultation for pregnancies up to 10 weeks.

The woman terminated her pregnancy at home in May 2020 after taking the medication, and was later admitted to hospital after she called emergency services.

The woman pleaded guilty in March of this year to procuring drugs to induce an abortion under the Offences against the Person Act, legislation dating to 1861. Originally, the woman had pleaded not guilty to a charge of an offence of child destruction.

The defence said the woman still needs help from mental health services and has shown extreme remorse. They added the woman now needs “family and support” rather than a custodial sentence.