The women have launched a protest which carries risk of jail
Police in Northern Ireland have launched an investigation after 100 women signed a letter saying they had taken, or bought, abortion pills from pro-choice charities.
The open letter, published by the Alliance for Choice, confirms they ‘have either taken the abortion pill or helped women to procure the abortion pill in order to cause an abortion here in Northern Ireland.’
They added: ‘We represent just a small fraction of those who have used, or helped others to use, this method because it is almost impossible to get an NHS abortion here, even when there is likely to be a legal entitlement to one.
‘We were delighted when Marie Stopes came to Belfast, as it meant that women who are unwell can access a doctor to supervise what we have done or helped others to do without medical help. And therefore have a right to a legal abortion here.’
The police are investigating the open letter, where signatories provided their names and locations. Currently abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland in most cases except for extreme ones, such as when a mother’s life is at risk.
The penalty for abortion is life imprisonment, meaning many women have gone over to the UK to have terminations.
However one signatory said ‘good luck’ to police in actually prosecuting anyone. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Derry student Natalie Biernat asked more women to speak out if they had taken the pills.
She said: ‘I know at least 20 people who have either had abortions or helped someone to get an abortion. I would say good luck in physically prosecuting anyone.’
The abortion debate is heating up in Northern Ireland, with a proposal by the DUP and SDLP to criminalise the abortions performed outside the NHS being debated at Stormont on Tuesday.