The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said it was providing the service in Ireland “while we wait for politicians to do the right thing”. The group says its confidential nurse-led telephone service will offer advice to women who have obtained pills from the online clinics run by Women Help Women (WHW) and Women on Web (WOW) and who are concerned about any symptoms they may experience.
“What these women really need are accessible, high quality abortionservices at home,” said Ann Furedi, Bpas CEO. “They shouldn’t have to make the choice between travelling to England and breaking the law by purchasing pills online.
“While we wait for politicians to do the right thing, Bpas will provide telephone aftercare to women who have bought pills online from these two women’s organisations and who want to speak to someone in confidence about what they are experiencing, or who simply need a reassuring voice at the end of the line. We will be here for these women 24 hours a day until they no longer need us.”
The Irish Examiner submitted a number of queries to the Department ofHealth, including whether it believes that adequate resources and structures are in place for women in Ireland who take abortion pills; if a woman in Ireland who has taken an abortion pill can seek support in Ireland without fear of prosecution; and if it believes the Bpas intervention is appropriate.
“Any person in need of medical help who goes to see a GP or visits a hospital in Ireland will get the treatment they require. The department has no comment to make on organisations offering services or advice from outside this jurisdiction,” the department said in a statement.
Bpas previously came in for criticism when it took out newspaper adverts in Ireland in 2013 in which it said “We’ll care for your women until your government does”, with the Pro-Life Campaign describing the intervention as “disgusting”.
“It is misleading to describe abortion as healthcare. Healthcare aims to save lives not end them,” Pro-Life Campaign spokesperson Cora Sherlock said at the time.
Bpas said WHW and WOW provide “high-quality, safe medications to women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant”.
It claimed adverse events were extremely unlikely, but that it was concerned that women in Ireland who have taken the pills would not seek help required because they were committing an illegal act. The helpline service will also be extended to women in Northern Ireland, and the Isleof Man.
Kinga Jelinska, executive director of WHW said: While abortion with pills is safe and effective, and most women are very satisfied with an online service, it will be very helpful to have direct support for women who may want clinical reassurance in the case of a possible complication.”