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20-year-old student jailed over illegal home abortion

A 20-year-old university student has been handed a 2-year jail sentence after taking pills that caused her to have an abortion.

The student who already has a two year old daughter when she became pregnant again at the age of 20, was charged with taking pills that caused her to have an illegal abortion.

Mirror reported that the student who narrated her ordeal said; 

“I felt I had no other choice other than to (plead guilty).

“The prosecution said if I didn’t plead guilty, they would charge me with child destruction, and I would likely go to prison for life.”

While abortion is accessible, it is still officially a criminal act in the UK, except in Northern Ireland, where it was decriminalised in 2019.

Under the Abortion Act and the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, abortion is allowed up to 24 weeks of pregnancy if there is a risk to the physical or mental health of the women or her existing children.

Before an abortion can proceed in the UK, two doctors must ensure that the requirements of the Abortion Act are fulfilled, and they must both sign the certificate.

If a woman procures a miscarriage through medication without going through this process, it can be a criminal offence under the 1861 Offences Against The Person Act (OAPA). The maximum penalty is life.

Laura (not her real name) is now calling for a change in the law, saying that women who have an illicit abortion only do so “where someone’s in a very awful place in which they’ve been given really no other choice”.

The young mum eventually went on to graduate after serving a two-year prison sentence but says she still has nightmares about her ordeal.

She said an abusive boyfriend told her not to go to the doctor but pills bought online instead. At the time she believed she was eight to ten weeks pregnant when she climbed into the bathtub and gave birth.

“I almost died,” she says. “I remember the bath being filled with at least an inch of blood. I wanted to die. Honestly, I just felt like the whole world had just ended in front of my eyes.”

She called an ambulance and was taken to hospital, where medics told her she had given birth to a 30-week foetus. According to the NHS, a full pregnancy is 40 weeks. She admitted to the medics how she’d taken abortion pills and police were called who guarded her bedside.

“They actually had a police officer with me in the hospital the whole time and wouldn’t let me speak to anyone other than the police,” she said.

She was only allowed a visit from her partner for “30 seconds” when he ”whispered in my ear that he would kill me if I told anyone that he was involved.” “They literally took me from the hospital, straight to the police station,” she said.

Recalling her experience while spending time behind bars, she said; 

 “I have seen things that no human being should ever see. The quality of life that those women have is disgusting. And I would not wish it on any single human being.

“I’ve seen people hang themselves. I have seen people slit their wrists and their legs, and people attack each other and over something so, so, so small.

“We’re in an environment with people who are vulnerable, and then mixed in with people who are violent. And that to me is not a safe place for someone like myself who is classed as vulnerable and very easily manipulated.”

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