Abortion 2

The Irish Times – Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Customs seized 1,216 packs of illegal abortion drugs in 2009
CARL O’BRIEN, Chief Reporter

MORE THAN 1,000 packages of abortion drugs were seized by authorities last year amid evidence that growing numbers of pregnant women are taking illegal drugs to induce abortions in Ireland.

The Irish Medicines Board has confirmed 1,216 seizures of drugs known to induce abortions by the customs authorities last year.

Medical experts have warned many women taking these drugs may be unaware of the proper dosage or administration of the drugs which can result in severe bleeding or incomplete abortions. Clinics such as the Marie Stopes Reproductive Choices, and a number of GPs who have declined to comment, say they have seen an increase in women seeking assistance after taking these drugs. In many cases, they say women affected said they could not afford to travel abroad for an abortion or, in the case of immigrant women, felt unable to leave the country due to their residency status.

The majority of seizures by customs and other services related to the drug Misoprostol (1,118 units) and Mifepristone (98), which are typically available on the internet.

Abortion in Ireland is illegal unless it meets with the conditions set down by the Supreme Court in the “X” case, where there was a substantial risk to the life and health of the mother. The Government has yet to legislate for this, however.

In a statement, the Irish Medicines Board said, “Counterfeit and illegal medicines pose a serious threat to public health. The board, in conjunction with the Revenue’s customs service and An Garda Síochána, continually monitors and investigates instances of illegal supply of medicinal products via the internet and other avenues and we actively enforce suspected breaches of the law,” it said.

Choice Ireland, a pro-choice campaign group, said the figures indicated at least three women a day were ordering drugs over the internet to terminate pregnancies.

“It is time to face up to the reality that Irish women will go to desperate lengths and take huge risks to end pregnancies they feel they cannot continue,” said the group’s spokeswoman, Sinéad Ahern.

Experts say medical abortion should only be completed in the first nine weeks of a pregnancy. The medical complications of abortion include bleeding, infection, incomplete abortion, laceration of the neck of the womb, perforation of the womb and the possibility of a clot moving. The later the abortion the greater the risk of side-effects.

Gardaí have investigated “back-street” abortion clinics in Ireland using drugs primarily used for inducing abortions.