Women warned over buying abortion pill online
Niamh Horan The Sunday Independent.
The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has reiterated its warning to women buying the abortion pill online.
The warning comes after the Irish centre for post abortion counselling reported a number of women coming to them who are accessing the drug over the internet without medical supervision.
Rachel's Vineyard, a group which offers weekend retreats for healing after abortion, has reported counselling several Irish women who have taken the so-called "abortion drug" before aborting at home.
Bernadette Goulding, director of Rachel's Vineyard Ireland UK, has said the group has dealt with a number of Irish women who have taken the pill unsupervised.
"I've had young women coming to me who would have taken that drug. The women would have taken the tablets themselves and aborted at home. It's being used very frequently here.
"I remember one young woman coming to me who had taken this drug and she actually aborted at home. Another young woman who had taken this drug aborted when she was out shopping. She went in to the toilet in the shopping mall. But, unfortunately, these are stories you don't hear about."
Mifepristone (RU486), or the "abortion pill", is widely available in the UK under strict medical supervision but is not authorised for use in Ireland.
However, in recent months, the IMB has discovered that it can be purchased directly from internet websites, meaning Irish women technically no longer have to travel to Britain to terminate a pregnancy.
Late last year, the board attempted to stop a website from providing Irish women with the drug, arguing that the drug is illegal here and that there were serious health risks for women who used it without medical supervision.
The board contacted a number of websites and drew their attention to the Irish regulations, which prohibit mail-order internet sales of such products.
It is illegal for people to obtain medicines via mail order and the IMB, in conjunction with customs officials, have been monitoring packages coming into Ireland on a continuous basis for potential breaches of the law.
Speaking about the latest reports, a spokesperson for the IMB said the authority would be "very concerned" to hear a number of women were accessing the drug online.
"The IMB would be very concerned to hear that women are accessing Mifepristone over the internet.
"In addition to the possible criminal offences involved, the IMB strongly advises consumers not purchase any medicinal products through unauthorised sources, such as the internet, as there can be no guarantees on the quality, safety, or effectiveness of products purchased in this manner.
"The IMB would advise women not to use the internet as a means to procure medicines -- it strongly recommends that professional medical advice is sought before taking this or any other medicine," the spokesperson said.