Teenager used pills for illegal abortion, court hears

Teenager used pills for illegal abortion, court hears
By: Health Posted On: May 14, 2024 View: 14

Teenager used pills for illegal abortion, court hears

People in black standing on steps with their faces covered by umbrellas
Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham seen outside Cheltenham Magistrates Court at an earlier hearing

A six-month pregnant teenager obtained pills to illegally abort her own baby, a court has heard.

Sophie Harvey, of St Mary’s Road, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, is accused of taking the drug to end her pregnancy after learning she could not get a legal abortion.

Prosecutors allege Miss Harvey and her boyfriend Elliot Benham, both now aged 25, searched online for methods to end the pregnancy and bought drugs, which she then took.

Miss Harvey denies charges of procuring a poison, procuring own miscarriage by poison and attempting to pervert the course of public justice.

Mr Benham, of Wingfield, Swindon, Wiltshire, denies attempting to pervert the course of public justice.

The jury at Gloucester Crown Court were told Miss Harvey and Mr Benham had been in a relationship in 2018, when they discovered that she was pregnant.

They did not want the baby so asked doctors for an abortion but it was found the foetus was more than 28 weeks old. The legal limit in England is 24 weeks unless in exceptional circumstances.

Two people in black covering their faces his hoods and their hands
Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham are on trial at Gloucester Crown Court

The court heard that after giving birth in the bathroom of her home aged 19, Miss Harvey wrapped the baby in a towel and disposed of it in a bin.

Anna Vigars KC, prosecuting, said: “These two young people found themselves in a very difficult situation facing difficult choices – a situation of their own making.

“In the summer of 2018 they were both 19 and in a relationship and had been for about a year.”

She explained that by August 2018, Miss Harvey thought she might be pregnant having not had a period since mid-April.

The couple told the GP she might be about 16 weeks pregnant and did not want to keep the child, so were referred to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).

The couple had an appointment at BPAS on 30 August where a scan revealed Harvey was at 28 weeks and five days gestation.


“It was impossible for her to have an abortion at this stage,” Mrs Vigars said.

“Staff spent time speaking with them and unsurprisingly both of them appeared shocked.”

Community midwives were unsuccessful in their attempts to contact Miss Harvey, the court heard.

“She didn’t want to have the baby and bluntly both of them wanted the problem to disappear,” the prosecutor said.

The court heard the defendants had searched the internet for information on illegal abortions and the drugs needed.

Addressing the jury, Mrs Vigars said: “Whatever your views of abortion and the right of woman to choose, or whether you believe abortion is wrong because of the ending of a life, what is very clear is this: by the beginning of September 2018, Sophie Harvey and Elliot Benham were in a difficult position and one that was not going to go away unless they did something about it.”

Mrs Vigars said about a week after the BPAS appointment, Mr Benham paid £309.44 for drugs to induce a medical abortion, which he collected from the Royal Mail on 22 September.

Disposed of body

Miss Harvey later told the police they had decided to keep the baby, but in September she had naturally suffered a stillbirth and placed the baby's body in a bin.

Officers found the packet of pills Mr Benham had bought in his girlfriend’s bedroom with one tablet missing.

Mrs Vigars said: "The prosecution position is that the pregnancy was brought to an end by the taking of that pill.

“The Crown’s position is that having done the research, they obtained the pills and she took the first pill and then gave birth, before getting rid of the baby’s body.

“In getting rid of the baby’s body they were also getting rid of any medical evidence that she had taken the pill.”

Both defendants have pleaded guilty to concealing the birth of a child.

The trial was adjourned early for lunch after Miss Harvey became tearful in the dock.

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