Couple Faces Trial for Alleged Illegal Abortion of 28-Week Pregnancy

A British couple, Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham, are on trial for allegedly using abortion pills to terminate a 28-week pregnancy in 2018 and disposing of the baby's body in a bin, highlighting the controversy surrounding England's strict abortion laws and the consequences of seeking late-term abortions. The case takes place in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and raises questions about reproductive rights and the criminalization of individuals seeking to terminate pregnancies beyond the legal limit." This description focuses on the primary topic of the article (the trial of the couple for alleged illegal abortion), the main entities (Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham), the context (England's abortion laws and the setting of Cirencester, Gloucestershire), and the significant actions and implications (the alleged use of abortion pills and disposal of the baby's body, and the controversy surrounding England's abortion laws).

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Bijay Laxmi
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Couple Faces Trial for Alleged Illegal Abortion of 28-Week Pregnancy

Couple Faces Trial for Alleged Illegal Abortion of 28-Week Pregnancy

Sophie Harvey, 23, and her boyfriend Elliot Benham, 23, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, are set to face trial for allegedly using abortion pills to terminate a 28-week pregnancy in 2018 and disposing of the baby's body in a bin. The couple has denied four charges related to the alleged illegal abortion.

Why this matters: This case raises questions about the accessibility and limitations of abortion laws in England, highlighting the consequences of strict time limits on women's reproductive choices. The trial's outcome may have implications for future cases involving late-term abortions and the criminalization of individuals seeking to terminate pregnancies beyond the legal limit.

Harvey and Benham pleaded not guilty to procuring poison (mifepristone) to cause a miscarriage, concealing the birth of a child, perverting the course of justice by disposing of the baby's body, and in Harvey's case, procuring her own miscarriage. The alleged offenses took place between September 1 and December 1, 2018.

According to the prosecution, in August 2018, Harvey visited her GP, who referred her to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) for a termination. However, a scan at the BPAS clinic on August 31 revealed that the baby was 28 weeks and five days old, making it too late for a legal abortion in England. Prosecutor Anna Vigars KC stated that the couple found themselves in a "very difficult" situation and seemed "shellshocked" when told they could not have a lawful termination.

The prosecution alleges that in September 2018, the couple began researching how to obtain an "MTP kit" containing pills that can induce an abortion. On September 22, Benham allegedly placed an order for the kit, paying about £310, and picked it up from a mail collection point in Swindon. Vigars claimed that Harvey took the pills, gave birth, and the couple disposed of the baby's body to get rid of medical evidence.

However, Harvey and Benham maintain that they suffered a stillbirth between the date the pills were ordered and the date they arrived. They claim that Harvey gave birth in a bathroom while her family was away, wrapped the baby in a towel, and disposed of the body in a shocked state. Harvey described her experience, saying, "I didn't feel anything for a week or so."

The trial is set to take place at Cirencester Court on November 13 and is expected to last around five days. Judge Ian Lawrie KC, the Recorder of Gloucester, released the couple on bail with conditions, including no unsupervised contact with children under the age of five, no obtaining of travel documents, and Benham surrendering his passport to Gablecross Police Station in Swindon. The defendants will next appear before Gloucester Crown Court for a case review on May 12.

In England, abortions are legal up to 24 weeks if performed by a registered medical practitioner and can be carried out beyond 24 weeks in very limited circumstances, which the prosecution argues did not apply in this case. The trial of Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham is expected to shed light on the events surrounding the alleged illegal abortion and the disposal of the baby's body.

Key Takeaways

  • Sophie Harvey, 23, and Elliot Benham, 23, face trial for allegedly using abortion pills to terminate a 28-week pregnancy.
  • The couple denies four charges, including procuring poison to cause a miscarriage and concealing the birth of a child.
  • The alleged offenses took place between September 1 and December 1, 2018, in Cirencester, Gloucestershire.
  • The prosecution claims the couple obtained an "MTP kit" and disposed of the baby's body, while the defendants claim they suffered a stillbirth.
  • The trial is set to take place on November 13 and is expected to last around five days, with implications for future cases involving late-term abortions.