A woman who was jailed for illegally obtaining abortion tablets to end her advanced pregnancy will be released from prison after Britain’s Court of Appeal reduced her sentence Tuesday.
Carla Foster, a 45-year-old mother of three, was handed a 28-month sentence last month after she admitted to obtaining abortion pills to induce a miscarriage when she was 32 to 34 weeks pregnant in 2020.
The medication was intended for use in the the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and authorities had allowed the drugs to be delivered by mail during the COVID-19 lockdown. Prosecutors said Foster obtained them by lying to a pregnancy advisory service, saying that she was just seven weeks pregnant.
Abortion is legal in England up to 24 weeks.
A judge said last month Foster should serve half her prison term in custody and the remainder on license after her release. But three appeal judges ruled Tuesday that her sentence should be reduced to 14 months and be suspended.
“This is a very sad case, not least because of the length of the gestation when the offense was committed,” Judge Victoria Sharp said.
“It is a case that calls for compassion, not punishment, and where no useful purpose is served by detaining Ms. Foster in custody,” she added.
Foster’s lawyer had told the judges that the prison in which Foster has spent 35 days had refused to allow her communication with her three children, one of whom is autistic.
Foster was initially charged with child destruction and pleaded not guilty to the offense. She admitted an alternative charge of administering drugs or using instruments to procure abortion.
Her sentencing last month sparked an outcry from abortion rights supporters, who argued that it was unnecessarily harsh. Professional organizations representing obstetricians, gynecologists and midwives wrote to the judge urging him not to imprison Foster.