Acquittal in Australian abortion case

A couple escapes jail time for inducing a miscarriage -- but the troublesome law that put them on trial remains

By Tracy Clark-Flory
October 14, 2010 5:30PM (UTC)
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Sergie Brennan and Tegan Simone Leach in a still from ABC News

In a landmark case, a Queensland couple has been acquitted on charges of illegally obtaining an abortion. Tegan Simone Leach, 21, was accused of unlawfully taking RU486 and Misoprostol to cause a miscarriage; and her partner, 22-year-old Sergie Brennan, was charged with supplying the imported drugs. According to a 111-year-old law, abortion is illegal unless a doctor determines that the woman's life or mental health is at risk.

The case largely hinged on whether or not the drugs involved were "noxious," as the outdated law specifically stipulates. The acquittal spares Leach of a sentence of up to seven years in prison and Brennan of three years max. Reproductive rights campaigners in Australia are of course overjoyed. "This sends a very strong message about what the people of Queensland feel about the abortion laws," activist Caroline De Costa told reporters. But before pro-choice Queenslanders let out a sigh of relief over this happy outcome, they'll want to overturn the centurial law so this doesn't happen again.

Tracy Clark-Flory

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