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Legal abortion won't help women in crisis pregnancies

6 April 2016

Belfast, 6 April 2016: The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), the UK’s leading pro-life organisation, has warned that legalisation of abortion can never solve the problems faced by a woman in a crisis pregnancy.

SPUC has also warned that the authorities must take seriously the danger posed by businesses which sell women drugs to procure an illegal abortion.

Speaking after the prosecution of a woman in Northern Ireland for aborting her baby with pills she bought on-line, Liam Gibson, SPUC’s development officer in Northern Ireland said:

"For years now abortion advocates have encouraged women in Northern Ireland to change the abortion law by breaking it, so it is not a surprise that someone has been convicted of illegally killing an unborn child. We don’t know all the facts of the case, but we trust that the judge, in giving a suspended prison sentence, has tried to balance the seriousness of the crime and whatever mitigating circumstances there were.

"The woman’s barrister, Paul Bacon, was completely wrong in law to assert that what she did would have been legal in other parts of the UK. Although laws differ substantially, do-it-yourself abortion is a crime in any part of the UK. The purpose of our laws against abortion are good and clear: they are designed to protect both babies and mothers from the lethal effects of abortion.

"While we all can sympathise with a woman who feels driven to illegal abortion through desperate circumstances, we must never lose sight of the fact that a baby boy, at about 10 to 12 weeks gestation, is dead and his body discarded in a rubbish bin. There are no circumstances which can justify the taking of an innocent human life."

Mr Gibson continued: "The pills used to procure abortions are dangerous. Statistically the death rate from infection following such an abortion has been 10 times higher than the death rate from infections following surgical abortion and 50 times more compared to childbirth. This drug is known to have led to the deaths of at least 15 women worldwide, including Manon Jones from Bristol and Jessie-Maye Barlow from Staines.

"The recent tragic case of Jade Rees, the young woman from Oldham in Manchester who took her own life following an abortion, underlines the reality that abortion can be emotionally traumatic as well. Any woman considering abortion needs to be told that there is help and support out there from crisis pregnancies centres, free of charge and with complete confidentiality. The declining numbers of women travelling from Northern Ireland for abortion in Britain shows that more and more women here are turning away from abortion and seeking help to keep their babies.

"For the sake of protecting women and children, the public authorities responsible for upholding the law can no longer turn a blind eye to abortion advocates who incite women to endanger their own lives by turning to illegal abortion drugs," concluded Mr Gibson.

Liam Gibson, SPUC’s development officer in Northern Ireland, can be contacted on:

SPUC's Communications Department can be contacted on:

Notes for editors

1. Dr Donna Harrison, co-author of a published paper on 607 of the Adverse Event Reports received by the FDA on RU 486, testified before a U.S. Congressional committee that the death rate from infection following medical abortion has been 10 times higher than the death rate from infections following surgical abortion and 50 times more compared to childbirth. Sometimes the bleeding is of massive proportions well beyond the amount of bleeding typically experienced in usual gynaecological cases. Regarding the severity of some of the cases, she said: “In my experience as an obstetrician and gynaecologist, the volume of blood loss seen in the life-threatening cases is comparable to that observed in major surgical trauma cases like motor-vehicle accidents. This volume of blood loss is rarely seen in early surgical abortion without perforation of the uterus, and it is rarely seen in spontaneous abortions.” (See Donna Harrison, M.D. testimony before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Res., Committee on Government Reform on RU-486: Demonstrating a low standard for women’s health. 109th Congress (May 17, 2006))

2. Short of death, the most serious concerns are haemorrhage and sepsis. Women who take RU 486 usually bleed for one or two weeks, with eight percent bleeding more than one month. This leaves women exposed to infection for an extended period of time. The average woman using RU 486 experiences four times the average blood loss associated with a surgical abortion. The US Food and Drug Administration Medication Guide for RU 486 states that “in about 1 out of 100 women, bleeding can be so heavy that it requires a surgical (D&C) abortion to stop it." (Mifeprex (RU 486) Label, FDA, Revision 2: 7/19/05.)

3. According to Health Department statistics there has been a steady decline in the number of women travelling from Northern Ireland to Britain for abortions for the past 15 years. From 1577 in 2001 the figure fell to 837 in 2014. The official figures also show an overall decline of about 16,000 abortions per year on residents in Britain since 2007.

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