Horror as woman sentenced to over a year in prison for taking abortion pills

13 June, 2023

Sign up to attend the Time To Act protest this Saturday June 17 to call for abortion reform at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Yesterday a woman received a 28 month sentence, with over a year in custody, for using abortion pills to end her pregnancy. Humanists UK has reacted with shock and horror, and calls for immediate action to reform abortion law in England and Wales.

Carla Foster, a mother of three, will spend 14 months in custody and a further 14 months on licence, as she took abortion bills outside the legal limit using pills at home during the pandemic. Ms Foster was initially charged with child destruction which she denied and later pled guilty to an offence under a Victorian law, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act.

Humanists UK has been campaigning for many years to move existing abortion regulations from the criminal code to the civil law, as with other medical procedures, to guard against the possibility that a woman in vulnerable circumstances – such as those facing domestic violence – could fall foul of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act for abortion. At its AGM on 11 June Humanists UK members passed an urgent motion recommitting the charity to its policy in favour of discrimination abortion law in England and Wales.

Humanists UK urges members and supporters to attend the Time To Act protest at the Royal Courts of Justice, London, led by BPAS, the Fawcett Society, and the Women’s Equality Party, on 17 June to demand reform.

Humanists UK Public Affairs Manager Karen Wright said:

‘We are appalled that a woman has been sentenced to 28 months, with over a year in custody, for having an abortion under a Victorian-era law. Tragic circumstances like what happened to this woman when she took abortion pills should be met with compassion and support, not compounded with a prison sentence.

‘Abortion is healthcare, and the time for reform is now. We call on the UK Parliament to immediately legislate to decriminalise abortion.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

Read more about our work on abortion.

Join the Time to Act protest on Saturday 17 June.

Read about the case.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 110,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.