The prosecution of a woman who admitted illegally aborting a foetus has been branded “mediaeval” by Lagan Valley Valley election candidate Trevor Lunn.
The woman was given three months in jail, suspended for two years, after pleading guilty to charges relating to obtaining an abortion using drugs.
The court was told she made the decision after failing to save enough money to go to England for a medically supervised abortion, and that her housemates had been dismayed by the woman’s “blasé” attitude after the discarded foetus was found in a bin.
While barrister and TUV leader Jim Allister said “the law is the law” and if it was broken, action must follow, Mr Lunn said: “The law is the law – but it shouldn’t be the law.”
Seeking a return to the Assembly, the Lagan Valley Alliance politician said the woman’s conviction was “a very sad development” and he pledged that, after the election, party members would renew efforts to liberalise Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.
“Something has to change,” he said.
“It’s certainly going to galvanise us to redouble our efforts to change the law.” He added: “It’s sad to think that something that wouldn’t be against the law in the rest of the UK is actually an offence here.
“That somebody can go through the pain and distress of what’s happened to that poor girl – she was only 19 – and then to be given a criminal record, is absolutely disgraceful.”
However, Mr Lunn said a bid to change the law to make it more like that in England, where abortion is much less legally restricted, “would not pass”.
Instead, he and his colleagues planned to revisit efforts to legalise abortion in cases of rape, and where the child has no chance of surviving outside the womb anyway, he said.