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10.35 17 May 2017


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95% of Irish women who took online abortion pills reported successfully ending their pregnancy without 'surgical intervention', a new study has found.

Researchers analysed the cases of 1,000 women from Ireland and Northern Ireland who were supplied pills and online support by the organisation Women on Web.

The University of Texas study - the findings of which have been published in the British Medical Journal - found that the majority of terminations were 'safe and effective'.

Researchers examined whether women could identify symptoms of "potentially serious complications of abortion" for themselves - and found that a vast majority (95%) of the 93 women who reported experiencing symptoms sought medical attention.

The authors write: "Seven women reported receiving a blood transfusion, and 26 reported receiving antibiotics [...] No deaths resulting from the intervention were reported by family, friends, the authorities, or the media.

"None of the five women who did not seek medical attention reported experiencing an adverse outcome," they add.

The researchers conclude that the rate of successful abortions from pills 'compares favourably' within those found within formal healthcare systems.

Responding to the study, Linda Kavanagh of the Abortion Rights Campaign said: "Often media reports in Ireland imply early medical abortion with pills is unsafe – this study shows that that simply isn't the case.

"In the study, we concretely see that the vast majority of women who accessed a medical abortion needed no medical follow-up. However there is a low risk of complications, and follow-up care should be available in Ireland without fear of legal consequences."

Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign, meanwhile, argued: "Taking abortion pills is never a trivial matter.

"Too often it is falsely presented as ‘healthcare’ but in reality it ends the life of a child and is not a treatment for any medical condition in the mother."


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