As we debate criminalizing abortion in the US, a 21-year-old woman was sentenced for having an abortion in the UK

On Monday, a woman in the United Kingdom was found guilty of having an abortion.

On Monday, a woman in the United Kingdom was found guilty of having an abortion. In our day and age, the idea of a woman being punished for choosing to end a pregnancy is unthinkable. But in Northern Ireland, it’s is all too real.

According to the Independent, the 21-year-old woman was found guilty at Belfast High Court and was sentenced to a three-month sentence, suspended for two years. She was convicted under laws put in place by Queen Victoria who ruled during the mid-1800s, which sat under Northern Ireland’s statue books for over 150 years.

Ireland’s ban on abortion makes it criminal offense punishable by sentences ranging up to life in prison, even in cases of rape or an abnormal fetus.

From the Independent:

The details which the court heard about this woman’s ‘crime’ reveal a heart-breaking nightmare. She was 19 when she experienced an unwanted pregnancy. She desperately tried to save up enough money to travel to England to have an abortion, but wasn’t able to. Left with no other choice and trapped in Northern Ireland, she bought abortion pills online and performed a DIY abortion on herself at home. Her housemates found blood-stained items and [fetal] remains in a bin and reported her to the police.

According to the Independent, there is nothing to gain from British politicians interfering with Northern Ireland laws.

Simply put, there are no votes to be won in English MPs getting involved in Northern Irish affairs, meaning they turn a blind eye to many issues there.

Also, the consensus is that women are not being discriminated against because they could simply travel to England to access abortion there. But this is only the case for socially and financially privileged women, and not teenagers with little to no money to their name.

Featured image via William Murphy (Flickr)

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