Concern over danger of abortion pills bought online


Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Monday, 11 February 2013

Abortion pills for testing at the laboratory

There is growing concern over women in Northern Ireland buying abortion pills over the internet.

The Government's health regulator, the MHRA, warn it is dangerous as people don't know what they are getting.

One pill tested for Newsbeat was mostly made up of paracetamol.

The Family Planning Association says it's hearing more stories of women in Northern Ireland turning to the internet for an abortion.

It is illegal to have an abortion in that part of the UK - unless the pregnancy is life-threatening.

Suzanne Lee is 23 and from Belfast, she fell pregnant in August 2012.

"My two options were between an abortion or keeping it because I knew I didn't have the mental strength to carry a baby for nine months and then give it away," she said.

Suzanne decided to have a termination and went online to buy abortion pills. She says it was cheaper than travelling to England where abortions are legal.

'Incredibly painful'

Suzanne admits without medical supervision, it was a traumatic experience.

She said: "As soon as I took the last pill that was it, I was in the bathroom, bleeding just started straight away.

My two options were between an abortion or keeping it because I knew I didn't have the mental strength to carry a baby for nine months and then give it away

Suzanne Lee

"I was vomiting all over the place, it was incredibly painful."

Drug testing

Newsbeat ordered some abortion pills online to get them tested. The website didn't want any medical information just credit card details.

Three bright yellow pills turned up in the post a week later with no instructions on how to take them.

After being analysed at a drug testing clinic, the results showed they were mostly made up of paracetamol.

Scientist testing pills

The website Newsbeat ordered the pills from didn't reply when asked for a response to the results.

Heidi Wright from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society says it is worrying: "We are very concerned, firstly the abortion pill shouldn't be available online anyway.

"The main problem is if you are taking other products which are paracetamol then you could be overdosing on that."

These pills are from just one website but the Government's Health Advisor the MRHA says there are no guarantees of exactly what is in any abortion pill you buy online.

Its advice for anyone thinking about having an abortion is to speak to a medical professional.

Goretti Horgan is from Alliance for Choice - a group which offer support to pregnant women in Northern Ireland and often help them travel to England to have an abortion.

She said: "We find more and more that actually among the women we come across, we can't find anybody who has travelled any more because they have all used internet abortion pills."

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