Teenager in Australia charged with aborting fetus herself

Pro-abortion group says she’s “cause celebre”

A Cairns teenager who allegedly self-aborted at two months with an abortion pill smuggled in from overseas has gained support from the pro-choice lobby.

Tegan Simone Leach, 19, is believed to be the first woman charged in Queensland in nearly 50 years for organising her own miscarriage and is facing up to 14 years in jail.

Pro-abortion lobbyists are rallying in Brisbane today against the landmark test case saying it “sets an ugly precedent for the rights of women”.

Ms Leach’s partner Sergie Brennan, 21, who lives with his girlfriend at their Mt Sheridan home, also has been charged with attempting to procure and supply drugs to procure an abortion.

The two are due to face Cairns Magistrate’s Court again on June 11 after they allegedly decided to terminate the pregnancy because they were too young to have a child.

Police allege a family member obtained the abortion pill misoprostol from a doctor in the Ukraine and smuggled it into Australia on a flight to Cairns on December 25.

The pill was then allegedly successfully used by Ms Leach to terminate her pregnancy and induce a miscarriage at 60 days.

In their first court appearance on Thursday, it was alleged the pair did not ask about the lawful process to have an abortion.

Medical abortions are legal in Queensland but are often expensive with 90 per cent or more terminations performed in private clinics for a minimum out-of-pocket cost of about $370. But it remains an offence under the 100-year-old criminal code to access or procure an abortion.

Pro-abortion campaigner Kate Marsh, of Children By Choice, yesterday said the case was believed to be a Queensland first.

“She is our cause celebre,” Ms Marsh said. “It comes as such a shock that someone can be charged with this offence in this day and age. We’d like to see abortion removed from the criminal code and be regulated like any other health procedure. It is an emotional issue and people have strong opinions about it,” Ms Marsh said. “But this unprecedented case highlights the urgency to change the laws.”

Cairns gynaecologist Caroline de Costa, the first Australian doctor to legally dispense the controversial abortion drug RU486, backed the calls for decriminalisation, saying Queensland should follow the lead of Victoria.

She said the legislation harkened to the 1960s when women died after undergoing illegal backyard abortions.



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