Mother jailed for full-term abortion gets sentence cut

A mother who was jailed after aborting her unborn baby just two days before her due date has had her jail sentence dramatically reduced.

Sarah Catt, 36, who took drugs bought from the internet to end her pregnancy, was originally jailed for eight years.

The judge at the time, Mr Justice Cooke, said Mrs Catt would have been charged with murder if the baby had been born a few days later and she had then killed him.


But London’s Court of Appeal has now ruled that her original jail sentence was “manifestly excessive” and slashed it to just three and a half years.

Mrs Catt claimed that the baby was stillborn and she had buried him, but no evidence of her baby son has been found.

Speaking at the original trial Mr Justice Cooke said: “The child in the womb here was so near to birth that in my judgement all right-thinking people would consider this offence more serious than manslaughter, or any offence on the calendar other than murder.”


He commented: “What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and defenceless, of the life which he was about to commence.”

He added: “This was a cold, calculated decision that you took for your self-interest alone.”

Mrs Catt had been having a seven-year affair with a work colleague and reportedly believed the child was his son. She also had two children with her husband.


Lady Justice Rafferty, heading a panel of three judges, referred to a letter of “remarkable restraint, dignity and loyalty” from Mrs Catt’s husband, which spoke of his hope that the couple and their two young children could stay together as a family.

Commenting at the time of Mrs Catt’s original ruling, pro-life group LIFE said, “this case illustrates the confusion in the way the law approaches the value of unborn human life and the supposed ‘right to choose’ an abortion”.

The group added that Catt “faces heavy legal sanctions, while abortion up to birth remains legal in the UK in some circumstances, for example if the child has a disability”.

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