Three senior citizens in Northern Ireland handed themselves over to police and asked to be prosecuted Monday in protest of that country's abortion laws, the Guardian reports. Abortion is largely illegal in Northern Ireland due to a 155-year-old law. That includes in instances of rape and incest, according to Vice. With dozens of protesters there in support, 72-year-old Diana King, 68-year-old Colette Devlin, and 69-year-old Kitty O'Kane turned themselves in for either using abortion-inducing pills themselves or helping other women get them, the BBC reports. “It is unforgivable how women are being treated,” King tells the Guardian. More than 200 other women signed an open letter admitting to the same crimes and stating their willingness to be arrested.
The retired teachers and social worker were spurred to action by the prosecution last month of a 21-year-old woman for buying abortion pills online. A second woman is due in court in the near future for allegedly buying the pills for her teen daughter. "If the police wish to criminalize one woman for a crime that so many of us have committed, then there can be no exception to the law, we must be arrested as well,” a statement from the three women reads, per the BBC. Northern Irish women in need of an abortion can either spend thousands of dollars to travel elsewhere in the UK to have one legally or buy the pills for considerably less money online and risk prosecution. Protesters say this creates a different set of laws for poor women. Devlin, O'Kane, and King were questioned and released Monday. Authorities have yet to decide if they'll be prosecuted.