Northern Ireland news

Abortion pill 'helpline' extended to Irish women

A pro-choice rally in Belfast earlier this year. Picture by Declan Roughan

AN abortion provider in Britain has extended a helpline to women across Ireland who have bought abortion pills online.

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) said it has extended its 24-hour 'aftercare' service in response to the Republic and north's strict abortion laws.

However, the move has been strongly criticised by pro-life groups, who said women in the north who obtain abortion pills online are breaking the law.

Bpas claims that abortion legislation in Ireland means that women "have no choice but to break the law and order pills over the internet".

It said the helpline will be led by nurses and offer advice to women who have obtained pills from online not-for-profit clinics run by Women Help Women (WHW) and Women on Web (WOW).

Women who have obtained pills from other sources will be advised to seek medical help immediately.

Bpas said it is concerned that because women who take the pills are breaking the law in Ireland and the Isle of Man, they may not seek help when they need it.

The charity said women will be able to "seek reassurance" about medical issues or if pills do not appear to have worked.

However, Bernadette Smyth from the group Precious Life pointed out it is a criminal offence for women in the north to procure abortion drugs.

"We expect the PSNI to be informed if a woman from Northern Ireland were to contact the bpas helpline after having an abortion," she said.

"It is in the interests of justice that the PSNI ensure that bpas are not covering up a crime."

She added that Precious Life will contact the "PSNI, the Public Prosecution Service, the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to ensure that the criminal law in Northern Ireland is rigorously enforced".

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news