A British woman convicted of aborting her baby just two days before her due date has had her prison term reduced after London's Court of Appeal found her original 8-year sentence "manifestly excessive."
Sarah Catt, 36, pleaded guilty in court in 2012 to taking poison with the intent to induce birth after a search of her computer revealed that the married mother of two had purchased a drug known for such effects over the Internet from a company in India.
While acknowledging that deciding on Catt's sentencing was difficult, the Court of Appeal, a three-judge panel, ruled that her original term of eight years of incarceration was excessive, and reduced it to three-and-a-half years.
During her criminal trial, it was determined that Catt had purchased the labor-inducing drug with the intent of miscarrying, and gave birth while home alone. The woman, who had been 39 weeks pregnant, claimed the baby boy was delivered stillborn and that she had buried him. She has yet to reveal the whereabouts of the boy's body, and no evidence of the child has been found, according to BBC News.
It was reported that the Sherburn-in-Elmet, North Yorkshire woman had been having an affair with a work colleague for seven years, and that her husband was totally unaware of her pregnancy. The trial judge determined that Catt, who confirmed the pregnancy at a hospital at 30 weeks, was "deliberate" and calculating in her efforts to abort, and that the gravity of her crime lay between manslaughter and murder.
"What you did was end the life of a child that was capable of being born alive by inducing birth or miscarriage," the judge reportedly said during Catt's 2012 sentencing. "What you have done is rob an apparently healthy child, vulnerable and defenseless, of the life which he was about to commence."
BBC News reports it was revealed in court that Catt had placed another child up for adoption in 1999, had an abortion with her husband's consent, had unsuccessfully sought another abortion, and hid another pregnancy from her husband before the baby was born.
The Court of Appeal judges reportedly considered in their decision the "remarkable restraint, dignity and loyalty" of Catt's husband, who had expressed in a letter the hope that his family could remain united.
The legal limit for abortion in the U.K. is up until 24 weeks. Britain's National Health Service, which suggests abortions be done before 12 weeks, indicates that an abortion carried out after 24 weeks is legal only if intended to save the mother's life, to prevent serious permanent physical or mental injury to the mother or if the child is greatly at risk of being born with physical or mental abnormalities that would make him or her handicapped.