Friday 18 October 2019

Fewer Irish women had terminations in UK last year - but more bought abortion pills on web

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Eilish O’Regan

The number of women having abortions in UK clinics fell last year but more women turned to the internet to buy pills to end their pregnancy.

The number of women in  Republic who had abortions in the UK went down  to 2,879 last year – dropping from 3,019 in 2018.

However, the numbers buying abortion pills online increased to 1,405, up 188 on the previous year.

And 107 sought to buy the medications online in the first three months of this year.

Figures released in the UK today show the abortion rate in the Republic, based on terminations in overseas clinics,  2.9 per 1000 women  last year.

The HSE said this marks a fall of 57pc since 2001.

Many of these women went to the UK for abortions or bought pills online as the debate on the proposed new abortion law was underway last year.

The Health ( Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act became law in January allowing unrestricted abortion up twelve weeks of pregnancy.

The HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme revealed that notwithstanding the change in law the online abortion pill provider reports that 107 women from Ireland contacted their service in the first three months of 2019.

“The provider directed all women who contacted their service to the My Options phone line to support them to access medically supervised abortion in Ireland.

“The provider reports that 43 of those women received ‘additional support’ from the online service over the period, compared to 184 women over the same period in 2018.

“The HPRA has reported that 9 seizures of 104 abortion pills were made in the first 3 months of 2019”.

Helen Deely, Acting Assistant National Director for HSE Health and Wellbeing said: ‘Women who reached out to an online provider earlier this year may not have been aware that new abortion services had been introduced and are available free of charge in Ireland.

The online provider who shared data with the SHCPP directed all of the women who contacted their service to My Options. My Options was established as the first point of contact for women seeking information and support in relation to an unplanned pregnancy. Professional and experienced counsellors provide information and support on all options, including abortion information and continued pregnancy supports.

If a woman is in any way concerned about her health following an abortion, we encourage her to call the My Options service.”

My Options information and counselling service is available from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and Saturday 10am to 2pm at - 1800 828 010 (00 353 1 6877044 if calling from Northern Ireland). The service also signposts callers to face-to-face counselling in many locations nationwide. The service provides a 24 hour nursing line, with trained nursing staff who provide medical advice.

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