In Ireland, no woman has ever been prosecuted for procuring an illegal abortion.
Pro-choice campaigners in this country created the false impression that Ireland is somehow unique in having criminal sanctions for illegal abortion. The truth is that most countries, even ones with very permissive abortion laws, have sanctions against illegal abortions. In Britain, illegal abortion carries possible life imprisonment. Cases are highly rare, but in 2013 one woman – Sarah Catt – was sentenced for taking poison to abort her full term baby at 40 weeks.¹
Abortion is an extremely serious issue. It ends the life of an innocent unborn baby. There have to be deterrents in the law for something as serious as that. In the event, however, that any prosecution were to take place, it should focus on the abortion provider and not the woman seeking the abortion.
There are very legitimate reasons for this section of the law remaining as it currently stands. Take situations where individuals illegally import abortion drugs to self-administer without medical supervision. That’s a serious health and safety matter not just for the unborn baby’s life that is endangered but also for the woman involved. Situations like this arise in every country with or without legal abortion. It’s a reality today that all kinds of drugs, some very dangerous, are traded over the internet. But that’s no justification for legalising these dangerous drugs.