Turning to the internet for abortion pills signals crisis for women in Ireland.
Article Type: Brief article
Subject: Abortion (Health aspects)
Internet (Usage)
Women (Health aspects)
Women (Research)
Pub Date: 05/01/2011
Publication: Name: Reproductive Health Matters Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers Audience: General Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Family and marriage; Health; Women's issues/gender studies Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Reproductive Health Matters ISSN: 0968-8080
Issue: Date: May, 2011 Source Volume: 19 Source Issue: 37
Topic: Event Code: 310 Science & research Computer Subject: Internet
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Ireland Geographic Code: 4EUIR Ireland
Accession Number: 259077115
Full Text: Women in Ireland are buying medical abortion pills online and receiving them by post, for less than C75. This is far less expensive than travelling abroad for a termination, bur it is illegal and some sources of the pills are suspect. Customs authorities seized 1,216 parcels with these pills of in 2009, which translates into three women a day who need an abortion whom the Irish health and legal services cannot help. Unless they get the pills flora a bona fide source, such as Women on Web, and unless they have instructions on how to use them, they may underdose, which could cause an incomplete abortion, for which they will need medical support.

There are no exact figures on how many parcels reached their destinations or how many women presented to a doctor later because things went wrong. Ireland is the richest country among the 25% minority worldwide that does not allow legal abortion on grounds other than an immediate threat to the woman's life. Backstreet abortions do not happen because women have been travelling to Britain and more recently Belgium and the Netherlands for safe terminations, but the ready availability of online of medication poses the alternative of self-medication. This threatens the denial in Ireland on the part of politicians that Ireland is abortion-free because it happens abroad. Customs authorities began seizing the parcels in cooperatation with the Irish Medicines Board who say: "Counterfeit and illegal medicines pose a serious threat to public health." However, the medications in question are licensed in many other countries and used to treat millions of women worldwide. If they were licensed in Ireland, there could be proper supervision in clinical settings. (1)

(1.) Medb Ruane: why turning to abortion care on the internet signals a real crisis in health care for women. Irish Independent, 30 October 2010.
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