LONDON The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) has launched a free aftercare helpline for women in the Republic ofIreland,Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man who have illegally purchased abortion pills online.
Abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland which forms part of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. And, on the Isle of Man also part of the UK abortions can only be carried out in the event of a criminal offence or on mental health grounds.
Thousands of women travel to England each year in order to gain access to safe and legal abortions, but many women aren’t able to travel and are forced to break the law and purchase abortion pills online. Purchasing abortion pills online is a criminal offence everywhere in the United Kingdom and in the Republic of Ireland; one that can carry a life sentence.
The confidential helpline which will be run by nurses will provide advice for women who’ve obtained pills from clinics run by non-profit organisations, such as Women Help Women and Women on Web.
Abortion pills purchased illegally online are the same pills as those legally administered by doctors Mifepristone and Misoprostol which are on the World Health Organisation’s essential medicines list.
According to bpas, “adverse events are extremely unlikely, but women may not seek help as they know they are committing a criminal offence.” The helpline will provide “reassurance and advice” for women who are worried about symptoms or simply want to talk to someone.
“These women shouldn’t have to make the choice between travelling to England and breaking the law by purchasing pills online.”
“What these women really need are accessible, high quality abortion services at home. They shouldn’t have to make the choice between travelling to England and breaking the law by purchasing pills online,” Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said in a statement emailed to Mashable.
“While we wait for politicians to do the right thing, bpas will provide telephone aftercare to women who have bought pills online from these two women’s organisations and who want to speak to someone in confidence about what they are experiencing, or who simply need a reassuring voice at the end of the line,” Furedi continued.
“bpas is concerned that because they are committing an illegal act, women may not always seek help when they need it,” read the statement.
“Women will be able to seek reassurance on the telephone about levels of bleeding, what to do if it appears nothing has happened, and when care should be accessed urgently. On the very rare occasion we believe emergency help is required, we will also call an ambulance.”
The helpline will be open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.