Co-authored with Hilary White

June 12, 2013 ( – A 36-year-old UK woman who killed her own baby two days before his due date by ingesting abortion drugs obtained illegally over the internet has had her sentence reduced from eight years in prison, to three-and-a-half.

Sarah Catt was arrested in September 2010 on a charge of “administering a poison with intent to procure a miscarriage.” She said that she had originally tried to have a legal abortion but discovered that she was beyond the legal gestational age limit of 24 weeks.


She said that after ingesting the abortion drugs the baby, which she conceived while having an affair with a co-worker and which she said was a boy, was stillborn. She said she buried the body of her son, but has yet to reveal the whereabouts of the remains. 

This was Catt’s second abortion. A previous abortion was obtained legally. 

During a hearing today at London’s Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Rafferty said that the original sentence of eight years was “manifestly excessive.” She said that Catt’s obstetric history pointed to the “potential for disturbance, personal misery and long lasting difficulty,” according to the Daily Mail.

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She also reportedly referred to a letter by Catt’s husband, in which he expressed hope that she will be able to return and be a mother to her other two children.

In the original sentencing hearing, Mr. Justice Cooke said Catt had robbed the baby of its life. “What you did was end the life of a child that was capable of being born alive by inducing birth or miscarriage,” he said. “What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and defenseless, of the life which he was about to commence.”

“The child in the womb was so near to birth, in my judgment all right-thinking people would think this offence more serious than unintentional manslaughter,” he added. He also noted that she could have been charged with murder if she had only waited a few more days until after the baby was born.  

At the time the UK’s leading pro-life organization, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, responded to the case saying that the state of mental health of Mrs. Catt, after two abortions, was a “cause for deep concern.”

Paul Tully, SPUC’s general secretary, said, “Abortion at any stage of pregnancy remains a serious crime, as the courts have recognized in this case.” 

He said that the penalty should be a “salutary” reminder to the Department of Health, particularly the Sexual Health Team, that abortion remains a crime in Britain “unless the requirements of the Abortion Act 1967 are fulfilled.”

Tully’s comments followed a spate of revelations by the press that these abortion regulations are routinely ignored and evaded by the abortion facilities under contract to the National Health Service.

“The grounds of the Act apply in few, if any, of the 500-600 abortions performed by doctors every day in Britain,” Tully said. “The department of health has worked incessantly since the 1967 Act was passed to maximize the provision of abortion.”