A woman from Northern Ireland who was prosecuted for buying abortion pills online for her teenage daughter has been formally acquitted after a landmark reform of the region’s laws.
On Tuesday, a judge directed a jury at Belfast Crown Court to find the mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – not guilty.
She had been facing two counts of procuring and supplying the abortion drugs with the intent to procure a miscarriage. However, abortion was decriminalized in Northern Ireland at midnight on Monday.
In a statement after the ruling, the woman said her emotions “were all over the place.”
“For the first time in six years I can go back to being the mother I was, without the weight of this hanging over me every minute of every day and I can finally move on with my life,” she said. “I am so thankful that the change in the law will allow other women and girls to deal with matters like this privately in their own family circle.”
Her solicitor Jemma Conlon, of Chambers Solicitors, added: “Today is a day of immense relief for my client, who now finds herself free from the burden of this prosecution that has been in her life for six years.
“It is a day that she will forever remember and a day that allows her to finally move on with her life privately without anguish and criminalization.”
For the first time in six years I can go back to being the mother I was, without the weight of this hanging over me every minute of every day and I can finally move on with my life.
Meanwhile, Grainne Teggart from Amnesty International, which had been supporting the woman, said the outcome was evidence of a new “compassionate” legal framework in Northern Ireland.
“Today we are relieved that she can go back to being a mother,” she said.
“What we are seeing today is our new abortion law taking effect. No longer will women be hauled through the courts and treated as criminals for accessing this healthcare service.
“This is the beginning of a new era for Northern Ireland – a more caring and compassionate Northern Ireland. This mother is now free to move on from this ordeal and go back to her family.”