(Originally published at The Debrief)
Houses have been raided in Northern Ireland by police cracking down on the online ordering of abortion pills. Two addresses in Belfast have been raided so far, and more than a dozen other people have been ‘invited for interview’ by the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland).
Abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland and the Republic (despite protests), which means women are forced to travel to the UK if they wish to terminate their pregnancy.
If they can’t afford this (it can cost anything between £350-£2000) their only option is to buy pills off the internet.
Self induced abortions are illegal in Northern Ireland without exceptional circumstances and so is the act of buying the pills.
Helen Crickard, an artist from Belfast, found police outside her workshop last Wednesday, who said they had intercepted a package to her address containing the pills.
She told The Times: ‘Anyone who is expecting a delivery of pills is now facing being criminalised at great cost.
‘However, we won’t be silent. We’re creative, and we will find ways around this.’
Police confirmed they carried out the search but said nothing was seized.
This is not the first time the PSNI has attempted to stop abortion pills getting into Northern Ireland: last year there were three cases of Irish women facing abortion pill related charges.
Between 2011 and 2015, Northern Irish police are estimated to have seized 3000 abortion pills.
Last year, a woman from Northern Ireland who was prosecuted for buying abortion pills for her 15 year old daughter won her case to challenge her arrest.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Servivce (BPAS) has said that although it was a GP who reported the mother, healthcare professionals have no obligation to do so.
The maximum penalty for the crime of administering a drug to induce miscarriage under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 is life imprisonment.