Online abortion service can offer alternative to unsafe methods to end pregnancy

Posted May 18, 2017

A team led by Abigail Aiken at the University of Texas analysed the experiences of 1,000 women from the Republic and Northern Ireland who used the drugs distributed by the organisation, mifepristone and misoprostol, in early pregnancy.

"Organisations like Women on Web supply the same safe, high quality medications that women would receive if they came to BPAS.' She also said 'the greatest risk women face when using online pills is not a medical one, but a legal one", pointing out that taking the pills illegally carries a maximum sentence of life in jail.

Online telemedicine can offer a safe and effective way to end pregnancies in nations that restrict abortions, where many women to choose unsafe alternative methods.

78 per cent were under seven weeks pregnant, while the remaining 22 per cent were seven to nine weeks pregnant.

The results - published Tuesday in the journal The BMJ - show that 95 percent of the group's abortions were successful, and less than three percent of women required antibiotics afterward.

Since high-profile prosecutions a year ago, the charity Abortion Support Network, which assists women who want to travel to England to obtain an abortion from Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, has seen a spike in calls.

The final version of Labour's general election manifesto includes a watered-down pledge to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly on abortion.

Overall, study authors found that self-sourced medical abortion via an online telemedicine service could be highly effective.

"Ultimately, bpas would like to see abortion decriminalised across the United Kingdom, and abortion regulated in the same way as other health care services - from Belfast to Brighton".

Woods explained to the BBC, "Nobody should be taking medical pills of this kind without first contacting their registered GP or health provider".

Aiken said the website does not operate in the US but that a telemedicine study of the abortion pill is underway.

Telemedicine is an online- or telephone-based medical service that provides necessary drug information to the patient through email or instant messaging support.

'Our current laws are irresponsible, cowardly and lazy.

She added that the criminalisation of abortion puts women and pregnant people at risk. "It does not compare these women to another group of women who had medical abortions under medical supervision", he said.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from the group between 2010 and 2012, and found that during follow-up consultations, 95 percent of the participants reported having terminated their pregnancies without surgical intervention, the Post notes.

According to the academics, the results of the survey provide "the best world evidence to date" about the effectiveness of using an online service. Women can either travel long distances to access care in a clinic--if they have the requisite financial and social resources--or they can find a way to do their own abortion outside the clinic setting.

Potential legislation would require more rigorous reporting of medical complications related to an abortion and a ban on medical research on fetal tissue from abortions.

"The Adverse Events Report lists 2,207 reported cases of adverse events including 14 deaths, 612 hospitalizations, 58 ectopic pregnancies, 339 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions, and 256 cases of infections, of which 48 cases were considered severe", she said.