More women buying medications online to end pregnancy

More women are resorting to buying medications online to end their pregnancies, it has emerged.

One family planning clinic saw three women during the first three months of this year who needed medical intervention after attempting a home abortion.

Medical director of the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA), Dr Caitríona Henchion, said the women had visited the same IFPA clinic in Dublin between January and March.

The doctor was speaking at a IFPA press briefing.

“We have certainly seen women who have taken online medications. This year alone we have had definitely three cases. In all of the cases there was not a successful termination of pregnancy and the women required further care,” she said. One of the women travelled abroad for an abortion while the other two, who had miscarried, were referred to obstetric services to remove retained tissue.

Dr Henchion said it was likely that women were using the medication because they could not afford to go abroad for a termination.

“It would seem likely that it is due to economic conditions and there seems to be an increase in women doing exactly that,” she said.

While there was no precedent for doctors reporting women who had attempted abortions at home, she feared that some women, particularly emigrants, might be afraid to seek medical help out of fear of being deported.

Dr Henchion urged women not to buy abortion medication over the internet because of the medical risks involved. “Bleeding, infection and failure of the procedure are the main risks,” she said.

“We can’t condone taking this stuff [medications ordered online]. Anything given like that can only be dangerous,” she said.

The IFPA said the definition of the unborn in the proposed legislation limited the scope of the Government to introduce measures to allow terminations of cases of foetal abnormality incompatible with life.

It also said proposed legislation was more about protecting doctors and placing obstacles in the way of women’s access to treatment rather than ensuring women were able to exercise the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy when their life was at risk.

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