CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

UK woman jailed for two years for aborting her baby almost a month before due date

By  Simon Caldwell, OSV News
  • June 14, 2023

LIVERPOOL, England -- An English Catholic bishop said he supported the decision of a judge to jail a woman for two years after she aborted her baby almost a month before she was due to give birth.

Carla Foster, 44, took the abortion-inducing drugs sent to her by mail when she was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.

Abortion is technically illegal in the U.K., but the 1967 Abortion Act permits the procedure within 24 weeks if two doctors agree certain criteria are fulfilled.

Foster was sentenced June 12 at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, England, to 28 months imprisonment, serving 14 months in custody and the remainder on parole after her release, triggering demands by abortion activists for the law to be changed to allow abortion on demand and up to birth.

In a June 13 statement, Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, the lead bishop on life issues of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said the church respected the decision of the court.

"It is the responsibility of the judiciary to decide how the law should be applied, including the consideration of mitigating circumstances and sentencing," he said.

However, Clare Murphy, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the abortion provider that sent the pills to Foster without determining the stage of the pregnancy, said it was wrong for any woman to be jailed for abortion.

She said in a press statement that the law must be changed so that "no more women in these desperate circumstances in the UK are ever threatened with prison again."

Foster, a mother of three, said she was too embarrassed to see a doctor when she conceived in 2019 and did not know how advanced her pregnancy was.

She had been searching the internet for ways of ending a late pregnancy and when the government permitted telemedical assessments at the start of the 2020 lockdown, she obtained the mifepristone and misoprostol pills in the mail.

Mifepristone works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which the preborn child needs to live. Misoprostol induces contractions to expel the aborted baby.

Foster wished to abort her child because she had moved back in with her "long-term but estranged partner," who was not the father of the child.

Her daughter Lily was born stillborn, and Foster says she has been since "plagued by nightmares and flashbacks" to seeing the face of her baby.

Catherine Robinson of the Right to Life lobby group, said in a June 13 statement that the case showed the need to reinstate "in-person appointments before abortions take place to ensure that the gestation of babies can accurately be assessed."

"The Government must firmly reject changing legislation to make abortion legal right up to birth, as is proposed by abortion campaigners, who are using this tragic case to call for the removal of more abortion safeguards and the introduction of abortion up to birth across the United Kingdom," Robinson said.

"At at least 32 weeks or around eight months' gestation, Lily was a fully formed human child. If her mother had been given an in-person appointment, she would still be alive," she added.

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