Northern Ireland

Man and woman cautioned over abortion pills

pills Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The alleged offence involved administering noxious substances, namely the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol

A man and woman accused of attempting to get an abortion in Belfast have accepted formal cautions.

Charges were withdrawn against the un-named pair after they were given warnings last week.

A judge imposed a ban on identifying the woman due to the heightened risk of suicide from any publicity.

The woman, aged 21, was charged with using a poison to procure her own abortion.

The alleged offence involved administering noxious substances, namely the drugs Mifepristone and Misoprostol.

Her 22-year-old co-defendant faced a count of supplying a poison with the intent to procure a miscarriage.

The charges relate to incidents in Belfast in 2015.

The 1967 Abortion Act, which established legal abortion, has never applied in Northern Ireland.

Terminations are currently only allowed in Northern Ireland if the woman's life or long-term health is at serious risk.

Lawyers for the woman described her as vulnerable and immature, and also referred to three previous episodes of self-harm.

A consultant forensic psychiatrist who assessed her concluded that prosecution and surrounding media coverage would exacerbate the risk.

The judge imposed a ban on identifying the woman to ensure her right to life is protected.

A prosecution lawyer also disclosed that the test for continuing with the case had been re-assessed following the expert medical evidence.

Cautions were administered to both defendants on 13 January.

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