Women Seeking 'Online Abortions'

Women living in parts of the UK that were not included in the 1967 Abortion Act - which liberalised access to termination on the mainland - are using the internet to buy medication enabling them to perform a home abortion, it has emerged.

However, in Northern Ireland and other parts of the country where abortion is restricted over one in 10 of those who used one of the sites later needed a surgical procedure to correct problems after taking the medication.

A British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology review of 400 customers found nearly 11% had needed such a procedure after taking medication.

However, one of the sites, Women on Web claims to offer an "alternative to a surgical abortion" by offering a combination of pills.

According to Women on Web, the "safest, most effective type of medical abortion requires the use of two different drugs", those being Mifeprisone and Misoprostol.

The drugs provoke "the spontaneous expulsion of the pregnancy from the uterus".

The website acts as a referral service in forwarding women's requests for a medical abortion service to a licensed doctor.

The doctor can provide a medical abortion after a medical consultation that takes place online.
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Women on Web posts drugs only to countries were abortion is "heavily restricted" and to women who are less than nine weeks' pregnant.

The site also provides a comprehensive list of questions and answers such as "is it legal?" and "is a medical abortion dangerous?"

However, it is still possible to have a continuing pregnancy after taking the medication.

Anti-abortion campaigners have called the development of such sites as "very worrying indeed".

The Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland said it has had several women calling considering buying abortion pills online.

The FPA said that on two occasions, women bought drugs without the appropriate medical information and experienced complications and needed aftercare.

Northern Ireland FPA Director Audrey Simpson said that while the Women on Web site is "very helpful and reputable", it is "encouraging them to break the law".

"We're really concerned about women accessing the rogue sites – we're hearing about it and we know its happening," she said.

Anti Abortion campaigner, Josephine Quintavalle, from Comment on Reproductive Ethics said it is "very worrying indeed" and that it "represents further trivialisation of the value of the unborn child.

Misoprostol is registered in most countries and can also be used to prevent stomach ulcers.


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