Appeal right granted in abortion pills case

A mother accused of buying abortion pills online has been granted leave to seek a Judicial Review into a decision to prosecute her.

The woman allegedly bought the pills for her teenage daughter.

She is accused of procuring and supplying poison with the intent to cause a miscarriage in July 2013.

In April 2016, a 21-year-old woman received a suspended jail sentence after admitting self-terminating a pregnancy with drugs purchased online.

Taking drugs to bring on a miscarriage without doctors' consent is an offence anywhere in the UK under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

But in England, Scotland and Wales an abortion can be legally carried out up to the 24-week limit and can be legal beyond that limit in cases where the mother's health is threatened or if there is a substantial risk the baby will have serious disabilities.

Women in Northern Ireland only have access to abortions when a woman's life is at risk, or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.

The application will go to a full hearing later this year.

Reporting restrictions mean the mother and daughter cannot be identified, but on Thursday their legal team asked Belfast High Court for a review of the Public Prosecution Service's decision to pursue a criminal case.

Their lawyers argued that conception followed under-age sex and that compelling the girl to continue with her pregnancy would have been inhuman treatment under European law.

It was further argued that prosecuting her mother for enabling her to access the abortion medication also violated those rights as well as the rights to privacy and family life.

Lawyers for the PPS told the court they believed there was "no prospect of establishing inhuman treatment".