By Susan Gately - 02 September, 2016
Irish pro life agencies have sharply criticised the launch yesterday of a support helpline run by a British abortion provider aimed at women in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man who have bought abortion medication online.
In Ireland, it is illegal to purchase abortion pills through the internet.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), a leading abortion provider in the UK with clinics in over 60 locations, will offer advice to women who have obtained pills from two online clinics run by Women Help Women (WHW) and Women on Web (WOW) if the women are concerned about any symptoms or want to speak to someone.
“If BPAS were serious about helping women, they would work on providing alternatives to abortion, which ends the life of an unborn child and very often leaves a woman suffering serious trauma,” said Cora Sherlock, spokesperson for the Pro Life Campaign (PLC).
“This helpline is a further attempt by BPAS to ignore the unborn baby entirely and normalise a procedure which is life-ending, not life-saving.”
She continued, “Those who take the time to listen to the testimonies of women who deeply regret their abortions would realise that it is the abortion procedure itself that causes this grief over the loss of a child and not the location of the abortion clinic.”
In its statement, BPAS said that “while adverse events are extremely unlikely” the agency was concerned that “because they are committing an illegal act, women [in Ireland] may not always seek help when they need it”.
But Bernadette Smyth, Director of Northern Ireland pro life agency, Precious Life said that abortion drugs were not healthcare.
“Research has shown, time and time again, that these abortion drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, also endanger women’s lives.”
In support of this, she cited an Indian study from 2015, which showed that from the time abortion drugs were legalised in India in 2002, over-the-counter sale and the self-administration of abortion drugs had become “rampant throughout the country” and “life threatening complications like excessive haemorrhage, sepsis and deaths” were not uncommon in women taking these drugs.
In the Indian study*, 40 women had self-administered abortion pills, a quarter of them after the approved time. [Of the forty], the most common presentation was excessive bleeding (77.5%).
Severe anaemia was found in 12.5% of the patients and 5% of patients presented with shock.
The outcome was as follows: 62.5% of the patients were found to have incomplete abortion, 22.5% had failed abortion and 7.5% of patients had incomplete abortion with sepsis.
Bernadette Smyth said that women and unborn children had to be protected from “the likes of” the BPAS, Marie Stopes International and agencies who sell illegal abortion drugs online and she called on the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to intervene if a woman from Northern Ireland contacted the BPAS helpline after having an abortion.
“It is in the interests of justice that the PSNI ensure that BPAS are not covering up a crime,” she said.
*Is It Safe to Provide Abortion Pills over the Counter? A Study on Outcome Following Self-Medication with Abortion Pills K. Nivedita and Fatima Shanthini.