Restrictions on women’s rights have serious real-world consequences. This was proven in Northern Ireland last week when a 21-year old woman from Belfast was sentenced to three months in prison for terminating her own pregnancy. Northern Ireland is one of the few places left in the Western world that in many cases doesn’t allow abortion, and these laws force women into making dangerous choices, as was true in this case. To add insult to injury these women are prosecuted. This shouldn’t be happening in the 21st Century.
On Monday Belfast Crown Court listened to a 21-year old woman make her defence. She had been accused of buying drugs over the internet in order to terminate her pregnancy. As a part of her defence, the woman, who hasn’t been named for legal reasons, said that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy but couldn’t afford to travel to England in order to have an abortion. The court sided against her and was given a three month prison sentence which was suspended for two years.
When I first discovered this story I was sad, but the reason I’m writing this article is because I’m angry. An organisation called Precious Life called the decision “too lenient” because they believe that the judgement will set a precedent that doesn’t punish women harshly enough for having illegal abortions. That statement wasn’t the thing that annoyed me, because they’re a pro-life group and they’re entitled to their own opinion. What angered me was that they are lobby the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland to bring this case back to an appeals court and give this women to a much harsher prison sentence.
This organisation claims to be ‘pro-life’ and speaking from a position of moral authority, but they are now lobbying to have a women’s life ruined because she had an abortion. They do not have the moral authority on anything. Figures from Amnesty International show that over 1,000 women in Northern Ireland travel to England every year in order to have a legal abortion. Banning abortion doesn’t make the demand for the service go away, yet despite this evidence this group wants to continue making hundreds of women’s lives worse. This group is disgusting and hopefully women’s rights campaigners are successful in passing more comprehensive abortion laws.
Abortion in Northern Ireland is only permitted in cases of the life of the mother being at risk, or there is a permanent or serious risk to the mother’s physical and/or mental health. This law needs to be amended in order to give women the freedom to control their own bodies, which shouldn’t be an issue in the year 2016. This woman will have a horrible time over the next few years because she decided to have an abortion. This cannot be allowed to keep happening, and organisations like Precious Life need to be shown to be the sanctimonious vandals that they are.