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Doctor campaigning for Repeal: "There are serious dangers when women take abortion pills without medical supervision"

13 April 2018

Dr Peter Boylan is a prominent promoter of the campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Not what his colleagues in Scotland are saying...

Dr Peter Boylan, chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and a prominent campaigner for the Yes side in the Irish referendum on abortion, has warned that there are significant dangers to the unsupervised use of abortion pills.

Unsupervised pills dangerous

Both he and Health Minister Simon Harris said that the widespread use of "illegal" and "unsupervised" abortion pills presented a compelling case for repealing the Eighth Amendment, and legalising the pills so they could be used under medical supervision.

However, in Scotland, the Government has allowed the pills to be taken by women at home (although this is being challenged via a judicial review by SPUC Scotland), away from medical supervision, and campaigners are urging for England and Wales to follow suit

Serious consequences

Dr Boylan said: "There are serious dangers when women take them [abortion pills] without medical supervision. We have knowledge of women who have taken them in excessive dosage and that can result in catastrophe for a woman such as a rupture of the uterus with very significant haemorrhage.

"And if that happens in the privacy of a woman’s home or perhaps in an apartment somewhere, that can have very, very serious consequences for women. So it’s really important that these tablets are regulated and licensed, and dealt with in a supervised way in the interests of the health of women in the future."

Abortion advocates here telling a different story

In stark contrast, the Scottish Government has said that the home is an appropriate place for a medical abortion to take place. Scotland's Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said: "Scotland is now the only part of the UK to offer women the opportunity to take misoprostol at home when this is clinically appropriate, a decision that allows women to be in control of their treatment and as comfortable as possible during this procedure."

Ann Furedi, chief executive of BPAS claimed: "Medical bodies around the world agree that home use is safe and sensible," while Jillian Merchant, vice-chair of Abortion Rights, said: "The Scottish Government’s decision to allow women to take Misprostal at home is a welcome development...The international evidence and studies clearly demonstrate the safety and clinical appropriateness of women taking one or both of the abortion pills at home."

The Women's Equality Party have also launched a campaign calling for the same change to be made in England and Wales.

Agreeing with SPUC's challenge

John Deighan, CEO of SPUC Scotland commented, "Dr Boylan’s acceptance of the dangers of the abortion pill are very much in line with our own concerns. It greatly strengthens our case against the Scottish Government, that someone from a very pro-abortion position would express such strong concerns about the health impact of the abortion pill on women’s health."

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