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11 / 07 / 2008 - Women use web pills for illegal abortions - `a horrendous type of abortion` says Bernadette Smyth, PRECIOUS LIFE
A prominent pro-life campaigner spoke of her horror today after it emerged that women in Northern Ireland are among those turning to the internet to buy medication which enables them to abort a pregnancy from home.
Director of Precious Life Bernadette Smyth said she was greatly disturbed that women were able to buy pills which can terminate a pregnancy from the web.
“This is a horrendous type of abortion which will traumatise many, many women. This is the equivalent of bringing backstreet, illegal abortions to Northern Ireland,” she said.
The anti-abortion campaigner was reacting to news that women in Northern Ireland and more than 70 other countries, with strict abortion laws, have used one of the main websites to offer the service, Women on Web.
According to the website, it offers women the chance to buy “a medical abortion which uses a combination of pills to cause the non-surgical termination of an early pregnancy up until the ninth week of pregnancy”.
Women on Web posts the drugs only to countries where abortion is heavily restricted, and to women who declare they are less than nine weeks' pregnant.
Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland unless it is deemed that the life of the mother is in danger or that the pregnancy would cause serious risk to the woman's physical or mental health.
The website specifically lists the province, alongside the Republic which also has strict abortion laws, as a country of interest.
The Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland has had several calls from women considering buying abortion pills online.
Its director Audrey Simpson said that on two occasions women bought drugs without appropriate medical information. They experienced complications and needed aftercare.
"The Women On Web site is very helpful and reputable,” she said. "But for Northern Ireland women, it is encouraging them to break the law — and as an organisation, we have to work within the law.
"We're really concerned about women accessing the rogue sites — we're hearing about it and we know it's happening.
"There are potentially serious medical complications for women from sites which aren't well managed and this could be the new era of backstreet abortions."
Ms Smyth said any website offering a home abortion service should be shut down.
“There are great psychological and physical dangers in turning to a chemical abortion, whether it is through a clinic or bought off the internet,” she said. “Women in this position have to deliver the baby at home alone which is very distressing. They deserve much better than this.”
The campaigner said she had not come across any women in Northern Ireland buying abortion drugs from the net.
“I did go on to one of these websites a few months ago, an American one, to see how easy it was to buy these drugs. It was very easy for me to access, all I needed was a credit card and that was greatly disturbing.”
Ms Smyth said she would be lobbying the Assembly to tackle the issue.
“We must do everything we can to protect unborn babies and, of course, the women themselves,” she added.
A British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology review of 400 Women on Web customers, published today, found nearly 11% needed a surgical procedure after taking the medication.
It found bout 8% did not end up using the medication they had ordered. Almost 11% went on to need a surgical procedure, either because the drugs had not completed the abortion or because of excessive bleeding.
Almost 200 women answered questions about it — 58% said they were just grateful to have been able to have had an abortion in this way, while 31% had felt stressed but found the experience acceptable.
Source : Belfast Telegraph
Fears over DIY abortion pills
Women living in countries where abortion is restricted are using the internet to buy medication enabling them to perform an abortion at home.
A medical study found more than one in 10 customers on one of the most well-known websites needed a surgical procedure after taking the medication.
Women in more than 70 countries have used the internet site Women on Web to purchase the drugs.
The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found 11% of 400 customers went on to need a surgical procedure - either because the drugs had not completed the abortion or because of excessive bleeding.
Northern Ireland Family Planning Association Director, Audrey Simpson, has said if a woman has complications after taking this prescription and presented at an A&E department, then they may well report that woman to PSNI because she has committed an illegal act.
She said: Anybody who procures an illegal abortion could be sentenced to penal servitude for life and that is the message women need to hear.
Director of Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth has labeled the development worrying.
Ms Smyth says it is a deadly game they`re playing. If they access this drug online without medial support their lives are in danger.
Women on Web is available in five languages and offers the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol which can be used up to the ninth week of pregnancy.
The website says it helps women gain access to a safe abortion with pills in order to reduce the number of deaths due to unsafe abortions.
Source : UTV