Northern Irish rape victim, 12, forced to travel to England for abortion

Officer accompanied child to surgical procedure 'to seize the evidence', committee told

A 12-year-old rape victim in Northern Ireland has been forced to travel to England under police escort for an abortion, MPs have been told.

Dawn Purvis, former director of the Marie Stopes pregnancy advice service in Belfast, said an officer seized samples from the procedure as evidence.

The child, who was not identified, could not be treated in Northern Ireland due to strict laws prohibiting the procedure in most circumstances.

Northern Ireland has a ban on abortions in almost all cases – even rape or incest.

The 1967 Abortion Act, which established legal abortion, has never applied in Northern Ireland.

Terminations are only allowed in cases where the woman's life is in danger or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

"The police had to go with her, they attended the surgical procedure to seize the evidence,” Ms Purvis said.

"That is inhumane treatment of a young child who did not have a passport and had to leave the country.”

It is unclear when the incident happened or whether the girl faced any action as a result.

Theresa May has faced pressure to give MPs a free vote on the issue after abortion was legalised in the Republic of Ireland following a historic referendum last May.

Ms Purvis, a former Independent Unionist member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, appeared before the Commons Women and Equalities Committee on Friday during its hearing in Belfast on Northern Ireland's abortion law.

"We saw many young women we could not help, from the roma or travelling community, victims of domestic violence,” she told MPs.

"One woman came in with a boot mark on her face where she was constantly battered and raped by her abusive partner over Christmas, and she could not leave Northern Ireland and the law here does not help women.”

Twelve abortions were carried out in Northern Ireland last year, official statistics show.

Amnesty International is calling for liberalisation of the stringent rules - saying more than 900 women travelled to England and Wales for the procedure during the same period.


Source: The Independent