Abortion in Northern Ireland could become an election issue

Two abortion cases have emerged in Northern Ireland this week

Abortion in Northern Ireland could become an election issue

Niall Carson / PA Archive/Press Association Images

For the second time this week, an abortion case has gone before the courts in Northern Ireland.

Earlier in the week, a 21-year-old woman was issued a three-month suspended sentence at the Belfast Crown Court, for taking abortion pills which she procured on the internet. Her housemates reported her actions to the police and it later emerged that the girl, who was 19 at the time, was unable to raise enough funds to afford a trip to England where abortion is legal.

And on Wednesday, a mother was presented before the same court for providing her daughter with abortion pills in 2013. The woman cannot be named for legal reasons to protect the identity of her daughter.

Reacting to these cases, pro-choice groups held protests in Belfast last night in an effort to bring an end to the prosecution of those who take abortion pills as an alternative to terminating a pregnancy. And speaking on the Breakfast show this morning, Irish correspondent for The Guardian Henry McDonald, told Chris Donoghue that the second case was also brought to the attention of the authorities via a third party. 

He went on to say that the debate surrounding the absence of abortion in Northern Ireland, is becoming increasingly prominent:

"The debate is so intense that even the British embassy in Berlin this week was picketed by German Pro-choice campaigners highlighting this anomaly.  Northern Ireland is part of the UK but is the only part of the UK where there is no abortion available except in very extreme circumstances. It may become an election issue which takes in Stormount on May 5.''

He added that political support for the legalisation of abortion, is scarce with just the Green Party standing as the only political group at present in Northern Ireland, who would be interested in introducing the 1967 Abortion Act. This party has just one representative while the Attorney General in Northern Ireland, John Larkin, is vehemently opposed to the possibility of abortion being legalised.