Women who don't seek abortion aftercare 'put lives at risk'
WOMEN returning to Ireland after having abortions in the UK put their lives at risk by not seeking adequate aftercare, according to a leading figure at Marie Stopes International.
On Saturday, the General Medical Council struck off Dr Phanuel Dartey after he carried out botched procedures on a number of women, including an Irish patient who became seriously ill after returning home in 2006.
The Ghanaian doctor who worked at the Marie Stopes International clinic in Ealing, West London, left parts of the foetus inside the Irish patient, which led to her suffering a perforated uterus.
The Marie Stopes clinics, which carry out about 2,700 terminations for Irish women each year, said the case involving Dr Dartey was an "isolated incident" and Tracie McNeill, the group's international vice president, said one of their main concerns as a healthcare services provider involved Irish patients returning home.
"We are worried that many Irish women are not visiting their GPs to receive any aftercare help.
"Many are too embarrassed and ashamed to tell their own doctors about their termination and it's not uncommon to hear of some who've become ill after going back.
"We do try to help and recommend certain doctors who we know can help but they are not countrywide across Ireland," said Ms McNeill.
And she added that they were hearing reports of increasing numbers of Irish women purchasing drugs over the internet in a bid to carry out abortions at home.
"Many Irish women are purchasing medication over the internet which they think will lead to a medical and not surgical termination," she said. "It's not safe to use some of these products.
"Technically specific and approved medication should only be used to cause termination in the first nine weeks but some are trying it after that stage in their pregnancy."
Confirming that some Irish nurses worked at their clinics in the UK, Ms McNeill said they tried to make patients from Ireland as comfortable as possible but conceded the stigma of having a termination was still substantial. "Some Irish women who come to the UK go to huge lengths to disguise the nature of their trip.
"I've seen some who actually bring back plastic bags from British shops so they can say the only reason they were here was for shopping."
About 5,500 Irish women travel to the UK each year to have abortions.