By Hilary White

LONDON, February 4, 2008 ( – A British man has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for lacing his wife’s food with an abortion drug. 36-year-old Gil Magira, a wealthy businessman, crushed tablets of the abortifacient drug regime RU 486 and put it into his pregnant wife’s sandwich, a bowl of cereal and a yoghurt, the Old Bailey court heard at the trial. Anat Abraham suffered bleeding and pain but her child survived.

The case is the first time in 30 years the charge of “using an instrument to procure a miscarriage” has been prosecuted in Britain. Magira was found guilty and originally sentenced to five years in prison, reduced later to three years and nine months.

Mrs. Abraham told the court, “What made it worse was how determined he seemed to be to get rid of the baby I could feel moving … Every day that passed I thought I had bought the baby another day to live. I feared for my life, I feared for the baby’s life and I feared for Gil’s life.”

Magira, upon hearing of his wife’s pregnancy, reportedly panicked and begged her to have an abortion. After she refused, he found the drug on the internet and administered it to her in her food on three occasions. The three attempts to abort the child failed and Magira later confessed what he had done to his psychiatrist who urged him to tell his wife. When she found out, Mrs. Abraham called the police. His defence counsel said that Magira later attempted suicide.

The couple’s son, Matan, was born two months premature, weighing 4lb, but was healthy. “When I went into labour early I was so terrified he would be deformed because of what Gil fed me.”

Last year a BBC investigation revealed a large illegal trade in abortifacient drugs, including RU-486, which is illegal to sell without a prescription in Britain.

An undercover BBC reporter with Radio 5 Live Report, pretending to be six weeks pregnant, visited several Chinese herbalists in London and for £40 was sold a package of herbs to induce a miscarriage. She was told that if the mixture did not work, she could buy a “special tablet”. After paying £100, the “special tablet” turned out to be RU-486.