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Readers' blog: Five women a day have an abortion here using pills

ROSA is a socialist feminist organisation and stands for Reproductive rights against Oppression, Sexism & Austerity. 

We organised an action at the Dáil to coincide with the Oireachtas Eighth Amendment Committee, and with research showing 3,000 women from Ireland contact just two sites for online medical abortions. Three thousand requests came from Ireland, north and south, to Women on Web and Women Help Women — just two telemedical sites providing abortion pills. This research comes from the University of Kent (Professor S Sheldon).

We can never know the exact figure having home abortions because of illegality and secrecy. But we can now estimate that at least five people a day in the Republic of Ireland are using safe medical abortion pills. How can a government sweep such a reality under the carpet?

Alongside 10 women travelling, five abortions a day are happening here in this State. Pregnant people are using medical abortion pills, illegal to use here but available to women throughout the world and recognised as essential medicine by the WHO.

According to ROSA spokesperson Rita Harrold: “Dr Abigail Aiken has interviewed Irish women using the Women on Web site and testified at the Dáil Committee. All abortions provided to women in Ireland through online telemedicine are for pregnancies at under 10 weeks at the time of request. Similarly, 85% of abortions to women who give Irish addresses in English and Welsh abortion clinics are provided at under 10 weeks of gestation, and almost all (92%) are provided at under 13 weeks of gestation.

“If we legislate for abortion on request up to 12 weeks as the Citizens Assembly recommended, we could allow women go to their own GP rather than using pills in secrecy and facing a potential jail sentence. Of note is the finding that 98% of women in Ireland who used pills from Women on Web felt they made the right choice to access abortion this way, and 70% felt relief.”

Úna Reynolds


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