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Woman jailed for eight years for self-induced abortion

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gavel 218.09.12

A woman has been jailed for eight years at Leeds Crown Court for obtaining an abortion at 39 weeks of pregnancy in 2009.

Sarah Catt, of Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire is believed to have become pregnant following an affair with a colleague. She discovered she was 30 weeks pregnant following a scan at a Leeds hospital and later claimed to have had a legitimate abortion at a local clinic.

Investigation of her computer revealed however that she had purchased medication used to induce labour on the internet.

Catt, who is married with two children, told a psychiatrist she had taken the drug while her husband was away and delivered the baby boy by herself at home. She claimed the child was stillborn, but has refused to reveal the location of the body.

Catt pleaded guilty in July to administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage.

Evidence presented in court suggested a complex history of pregnancy and childbirth: Catt gave up a child for adoption in 1999, she later had a termination with the agreement of her husband, tried to terminate another pregnancy but missed the legal limit and concealed another pregnancy from her husband before the child's birth.

Sentencing her to eight years in prison, the judge said Catt had made a "deliberate and calculated decision" to end her pregnancy.

Ch Insp Kerrin Smith, who led the North Yorkshire Police investigation, said "Catt has proved to be cold and calculating and has shown no remorse or given an explanation for what she did."

Commenting on the case Abortion Rights said:

"This is a sad and unusual case and one that highlights the desperation women can feel when faced by an unwanted pregnancy and when they feel their options are closed.

The upper legal time limit for abortion in this country is 24 weeks in most cases, and while we do not condone anyone operating outside the law, the case underlines how vital it is for women to have access to safe, legal abortion as early as possible in pregnancy.

The reason why we do not see situations like this in the UK is because in the vast majority of cases women do have access to high quality abortion services and good advice on their pregnancy options.

Sarah Catt is clearly a very troubled individual, with a complex medical history. An eight year jail term in such a case is disproportionate.

Women who find themselves in what seem like impossible circumstances must be treated with understanding and compassion, and offered treatment if appropriate, not threatened with prosecution."

 

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