Donlon continues: “The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 defines the circumstances within which abortion in Ireland can be legally performed. The total number of abortions carried out in accordance with this act in 2016 was 25. There were 26 in each of the years 2014 and 2015. 2014 was the first year in which data was reported.”
Moving on to abortion pills, she says they are “designed to induce an abortion for a woman who is less than nine weeks pregnant”.
“Abortion pills are used by abortion providers in medically supervised clinics in countries where abortion is legal. These are referred to as medical abortions. The Programme is aware that some women are accessing abortion pills in Ireland from international online providers. In order to try to understand the incidence of this, the Programme set up a reporting relationship with the Health Products Regulatory Authority in relation to the number of abortion pills seized by customs officers annually.
“The Programme has provided training and support to all funded services on this emerging issue. All services have developed protocols in this area and training manuals and online resources have been updated with relevant information.
The reasons women may be accessing abortion pills online are cost and access. For women who have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, the cost associated with travelling from Ireland to another country for a medically supervised termination is high. Research finds that higher earning women are more likely to travel to other countries for abortions over their lower earning counterparts.
“Until recently it was difficult to make an assessment of the level to which this practice is occurring as limited information was available. However recently published research suggests that more women are contacting online providers of abortion pills annually and becoming more aware about the availability of these drugs online.
“As you have been informed by a previous witness, Dr Abigail Aiken, her study found that over the period January 2010 to December 2016 the number of women from Ireland contacting an online provider of abortion pills tripled. In 2010 there were 548 online consultations completed by women from the island of Ireland – in 2016, the number had increased to 1,748.
“Another research article published by the same authors in 2017, reports on the experiences of women following taking the abortion pill in Ireland. The study reports on 1,000 women who underwent self-sourced medical abortion from the online service.
“The study reports that while the vast majority of women did not need to contact medical services following taking the abortion pill at home, approximately one in ten (9.3%) reported to the online provider that they were experiencing a symptom for which they were advised to seek medical advice and the vast majority of these women sought medical advice as advised.
“The Programme has identified one other main provider of the abortion pill and has sought similar information from this provider for a more accurate assessment of the trend.
“If a woman takes an abortion pill and has prolonged heavy bleeding, bad pain, fainting, or other complications, we strongly encourage that she attends an emergency department or GP straight away. Or if a woman is concerned about her health following taking an abortion pill, we would encourage her to attend a free post-abortion medical check-up funded by the HSE. A list of services is available on www.abortionaftercare.ie.”
Source : http://www.thejournal.ie/eighth-amendment-committee-6-3698211-Nov2017/574