Abortion pill at home killed two women in UK: Minister Donnelly must change law now

Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Ptanham

One of the first measures taken by Simon Harris during the Covid-19 crisis was to put the lives of unborn children further risk by allowing “home abortions” – meaning that women could get the abortion pill in the post without having been examined or having a face-to-face consultation with a doctor.

While the rest of the country was worried sick about the coronavirus and saving lives, then-minister Harris was occupied with making sure that it would be even easier to access an abortion. His move flatly contradicted the assurances both he and Leo Varadkar gave during the referendum that abortion pills would only be prescribed by a doctor after a consultation.

At the time, Mary Fitzgibbon, of Nurses and Midwives for Life, told Gript News that prescribing the abortion pill by video conference would be an unsafe and retrograde move. She explained that a visit is required to confirm the pregnancy, and, importantly, to certify how many weeks pregnant the woman is. An ultrasound may be required, and can be crucial to determine if the pregnancy is ectopic. An undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy can be life-threatening, she said, pointing out that the HSE’s own website had made the need for these precautions clear before Minister Harris decided to allow abortion pills to be taken at home, outside a supervised medical setting.

Her warning was prescient. In Britain, which also allowed for ‘home abortions’, we know that two women have died after taking abortion pills at home, as Maria Horan reports on page six of this month’s ALIVE!

A leaked “urgent” email sent by a senior chief midwife at the NHS in England told of the “escalating risks” of the trend towards home abortions – using the ‘pills in the post’ service that is run by UK abortion providers including BPAS and Marie Stopes.

The shocking revelations about the deaths of the two women were made at the UK Court of Appeal, when a case brought by Christian Concern argued that the government’s ‘DIY’ home abortion policy was facilitating dangerous abortions.

The leaked email revealed that women have attended emergency departments after taking abortion pills at home because of ruptured ectopic pregnancies, “major resuscitations for major haemorrhage” and also “the delivery of infants up to 30 weeks gestation”.

So we know that women’s lives, as well as those of their unborn children, are being endangered by so-called ‘DIY abortions’ – the process of posting out abortion pills to pregnant women without face-to-face consultations or physical examinations.

Given the clear and tragic warning from Britain the government must urgently address this issue in Ireland, before a woman and her baby both die in this country also.

Stephen Donnelly of Fianna Fáil is now Minister for Health. He has allowed the practise to continue, saying only that it will be “reviewed” when the Covid-19 threat passes.

To ensure that women do not die, the Minister for Health has a duty to immediately put a halt to unsafe ‘home abortions’. If, unlike many of our politicians, you care about both mother and  child, please call or email your local TDs now and ask them to put an end to the practise. You can also call Minister Stephen Donnelly’s office on (01) 201 7300 and ask him to stop ‘home abortions’

Every abortion is a tragedy, ending the life of a child and denying real choices to women in need. Putting women’s lives in danger with ‘home abortions’ shows just how uninterested in women’s rights our government really is.