A 21-year-old woman was issued a suspended jail sentence for taking the pills to induce a miscarriage
The housemates of a Belfast woman who took abortion pills to self-terminate a pregnancy have explained why they reported her actions to the police in Northern Ireland.
The former housemate, who was 19 at the time of the incident, received a suspended custodial sentence this week for breaking abortion laws in Northern Ireland. According to the two women who found the male foetus in a plastic bag, and subsequently reported their housemate to the police, they have received a deluge of criticism in the interim. They have also undergone counselling.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the women revealed how their housemate referred to the baby as a 'pest' and was keen to have a termination but was unable to afford the trip to England for a legal abortion. This in turn provoked her to procure abortion pills on the internet.
One of the housemates said:
"She called the baby 'the pest' and kept saying she just wanted rid of it. I offered a number of times to become legal guardian to the child. I myself had just had a miscarriage.''
"This isn't anything to do with the rights and wrongs of abortion. I'm not anti-abortion. I believe there are circumstances, like rape, where it should be a woman's choice. This is about her attitude. It was as if she was getting rid of a piece of clothing."
"We tried to help her. She was given lots of different options. We even tried to talk to her family to get them to help her, but we didn't know them and she wouldn't give us their contact details. People are saying we contacted police out of malice. That's not true.''
The second housemate echoed these sentiments by saying:
"I tried to be nice to her. My mum took her own life when I was 17 and I knew how badly that affected me, so I thought that something that bad must have affected her."
"I asked her why she wouldn't give the baby a proper burial and she said 'do you want me to put it in a bag and throw it up the street?' I was so angry at her attitude. I eventually cracked up and told a friend. I was a frantic mess. He was shocked and told me I had to contact the police."
Reacting to the verdict handed down to the 21-year-old during the week, the Abortion Rights Campaign said they wanted immediate reform of abortion laws in Ireland.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Henry McDonald from The Guardian says the defence argued that the woman at the centre of this case felt extremely vulnerable.
"[They said] she couldn't afford to travel to England, and felt alone and isolated amid strangers in a house in Belfast".