Woman accused of illegal abortion says she miscarried

Four people arriving at court dressed in all black covered by umbrellas
Sophie Harvey denies procuring poison with intent to procure a miscarriage [BBC]

A woman accused of illegally aborting her baby has told a court she believes she miscarried naturally.

Sophie Harvey, then 19, said the baby was not moving after she gave birth and she wrapped the infant's body in a towel and placed it in a bin at her home in Gloucestershire in September 2018.

Sophie Harvey, 25, of St Mary's Road, Cirencester, and her partner, Elliot Benham, 25, of Wingfield, Swindon, are accused of using "poison" to cause a miscarriage before concealing a dead baby.

Ms Harvey denies taking drugs to terminate her pregnancy after being told she was several weeks past the legal limit for an abortion.

'I was scared'

Appearing at Gloucester Crown Court on Thursday, Ms Harvey, who was 28 weeks and five days pregnant, said that she gave birth to a stillborn baby.

She said she went into labour on the afternoon of 9 September.

“I had some pain in my stomach. I was sat on the toilet and there was blood,” she told the jury.

“I was scared. I believe I was having a miscarriage.”

She added: "After I put the baby in the towel, I put him in the bin. I believed it was ok to do so.

"I felt a mixture of things, upset, confused. I was distressed."

Four people wearing black under black umbrellas
Sophie Harvey fell pregnant in 2018 [BBC]

The court was told that after a positive pregnancy test, Ms Harvey made an appointment to see her GP on 13 August, who then referred her to the BPAS (British Pregnancy Advisory Service) for a termination.

During a consultation on 30 August Ms Harvey learned that she was beyond the 24-week gestation period meaning she could not get a legal abortion in England.

"I was shocked," she said.

"I thought the abortion would go ahead."

But she told the court she later decided to keep the baby.

She said she only told Mr Benham about the pregnancy as she "wasn't sure" how to tell her mum or dad.

Prosecutors allege that after the appointment, the defendants ordered a kit of five pills to end the pregnancy.

'Didn't take the pills'

On 30 November 2018, Ms Harvey was arrested and had her phone seized.

When police searched Ms Harvey's home, they found the packet with the first pill allegedly missing, which they say she had taken.

The court was told Ms Harvey had used her phone to carry out internet searches on several dates from 3 to 6 September about purchasing abortion pills, which were paid for on 7 September.

It is alleged that Mr Benham collected the package from the Royal Mail sorting office on 22 September and that the baby was actually born on 23 September.

Ms Harvey said she had removed the first pill from the blister pack because she was considering taking it in case part of the birthing process had remained inside her.

She was asked in court: “Did you take that pill, Sophie?”

She replied: “No.”

Both defendants are facing charges of perverting the course of justice, in that between 22 September and 1 October 2018, the pair disposed of the baby.

Ms Harvey is facing two additional charges, including purchasing pills with the intent to cause a miscarriage, and unlawfully administering that poison to herself.

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

Ms Harvey denied procuring poison with intent to procure a miscarriage. She said that the pills arrived after her miscarriage but claims she did not take them.

The trial at Gloucester Crown Court continues.

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