Police confiscate 'abortion robot' at Northern Ireland protest

A number of women took the pills as police attempted to intervene

Police confiscate 'abortion robot' at Northern Ireland protest

Image: ROSA NI

Police have confiscated abortion pills from campaigners at a protest in Belfast.

A number of women swallowed the pills after the PSNI intervened.

It is illegal to take abortion pills in the North - except in circumstances where the mother's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

The pills were delivered to the campaigners outside Belfast Crown Court by an 'abortion robot' operated from within the Netherlands.

The campaigners said the pills could be delivered without breaking the law because abortion is legal in the Netherlands.

Police have questioned the women but they have not been arrested. Under Northern Irish law, the act of taking the pills carries a potential life sentence.

The robot has also been confiscated. 

The campaign is being spearheaded by a number of groups including the Dutch group Women on Waves and ROSA Northern Ireland in an effort to call attention to the "restrictive abortion laws and the prosecution of women in Northern Ireland."

The groups have admitted that pregnant women would be breaking the law by taking the pills.

However the women who took the pills outside the courthouse refused to disclose their identity or whether they were pregnant.

The campaigners warned that "this is a matter of patient confidentiality and forcing women to undergo a pregnancy test would be a severe violation of their human rights."

Reform

The campaign has been bolstered by last week's historic 'Yes' vote in the Eighth Amendment Referendum. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May has come under pressure to reform the strict abortion laws in the region - in the absence of a devolved Government at Stormont.

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has noted that women from the North will be entitled to access abortion in the South once the new laws are in place.

Northern Irish citizens can already access healthcare across the border.

Bus4Choice

The group is holding protests across Northern Ireland on Thursday.

The campaign will see the Bus4Choice travelling throughout the region and offering abortion counselling and ultrasounds.

The bus will complete its journey in Derry, where it will park near Guildhall Square.