Friday 21 July 2017

Ban leads to 'invasive and later-term abortions': doctor

Discussion: Gilda Sedgh, Guttmacher Institute, and Dr Patricia Lohr, BPAS, at the Citizens’ Assembly. Photo: Damien Eagers
Discussion: Gilda Sedgh, Guttmacher Institute, and Dr Patricia Lohr, BPAS, at the Citizens’ Assembly. Photo: Damien Eagers

Laura Lynott

A medical expert has criticised the "isolating" journey thousands of Irish women make to have an abortion in England, with many opting for invasive, later-term surgery rather than tablet-induced terminations so that they can travel home sooner.

British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) medical director Dr Patricia Lohr, who spoke at the third meeting of the Citizens' Assembly in Malahide, questioned the "morality" of the Eighth Amendment which forces Irish women to travel to the UK for legal abortions.

She suggested that many women were risking health complications by accessing later-term abortions and insisted that the "right of the mother" came above that of a foetus when considering any risk posed to the woman.

Dr Lohr told the assembly that tablet-induced abortions were the preferred choice of women in the UK - because this allowed them to go home and spend time with loved ones while the foetus was miscarried over two days.

However, most Irish women choose the more invasive route of immediate surgery so that they can travel home sooner.

Dr Lohr said: "The vast majority of [British] women go home to pass the pregnancy at home," but "women from Ireland are not choosing medical [tablet] abortion.

"That probably has to do with the fact that would mean another overnight stay. A surgical abortion can be performed in one day. A woman can fly over in the morning and go home in the afternoon."

She added: "A medical abortion means usually the two medicines used are given over two days. The first is taken, then the woman comes back in a couple of days to getsa second medicine and they have to have a place to stay."

Dr Lohr said that having a medical abortion would mean "women would be managing the effects of medical pain, bleeding and passing the pregnancy while traveling home".

Later the head of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre told the Citizens' Assembly that around 4pc of Rape Crisis Network Ireland clients also report a pregnancy.

Noeline Blackwell said that not all rapes are reported and not all pregnancies would be made known to them. But of these, 35pc gave birth and became parents, 31pc terminated, 19pc miscarried, 7pc chose adoption and 8pc had an unknown outcome.

She added: "A medical abortion can take two or three days, so that's a lot of time out of people's lives, if they have someone with them or children at home."

Dr Lohr also said that Irish women were having later-stage abortions because they needed "around a week" longer to get the money to pay for the termination which can cost up to €1,500.

Sunday Independent

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