· Adverse events extremely unlikely, but women may not seek help as they know they are committing a criminal offence
· Free helpline will provide reassurance and advice to women who have taken pills in countries where abortion is severely restricted
· Helpline will be advertised in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) has launched a free telephone aftercare helpline for women in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man who have bought abortion medication online. Access to abortion services in these areas is currently highly restricted, meaning women who cannot travel for abortion treatment have no choice but to break the law and order pills over the internet.
The confidential nurse-led telephone service will offer advice to women who have obtained pills from the online not-for-profit clinics run by Women Help Women (WHW) and Women on Web (WOW) and who are concerned about any symptoms or simply want to speak to someone. bpas knows these organisations provide the same high quality, safe medications to women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant that are provided from bpas clinics. While adverse events are extremely unlikely, bpas is concerned that because they are committing an illegal act, women may not always seek help when they need it.
Early medical abortion involves taking 2 sets of medications, mifepristone (which detaches the pregnancy from the lining of the womb) and then misoprostol (which causes the womb to contract and expel the pregnancy). Women who receive treatment at bpas go home to pass the pregnancy, and are able to call the helpline 24 hours a day, every day of the year, if they have questions or concerns.
This service is now being extended to include women who have taken pills supplied by WHW and WOW in Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man. Women in these areas are increasingly using this option as the logistics and costs of travel, treatment and accommodation can be prohibitive, and online pills provided by WHW and WOW are a safe, effective alternative for women unable to continue their pregnancies.
WHW and WOW already provide women with comprehensive information about what to expect, and when to seek help. The bpas aftercare telephone line provides another option for those women who wish to speak to someone, or who need immediate help. 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.
Women who have purchased online medication from services not provided by WHW and WOW will be advised to seek medical help immediately.
Ann Furedi, chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said:
"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. 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. We will be here for these women 24 hours a day until they no longer need us."
Kinga Jelinska, Executive Director of Women Help Women, said:
"Women Help Women welcomes the launch of the bpas abortion aftercare hotline. While abortion with pills is safe and effective, and most women are very satisfied with an online service, it will be very helpful to have direct support for women who may want clinical reassurance in the case of a possible complication. Until laws are changed that allow every woman to access abortion care in a clinic without traveling, we are so appreciative that bpas is creating this service for all women in Ireland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man."
Aftercare helpline numbers (PLEASE DO NOT USE THESE NUMBERS FOR PRESS ENQUIRIES)
From Ireland: 1800 910 049
From Northern Ireland: 0800 077 6049
From the Isle of Man: 0800 077 6049
For more information please contact the bpas press office on 0207 061 3377, 07788 725185 or firstname.lastname@example.org
bpas is a charity which sees more than 70,000 women a year and provides reproductive healthcare services including pregnancy counselling, abortion care, miscarriage management and contraception, at clinics across the UK. It supports and advocates for reproductive choice. More information can be found at bpas.org.
About Women Help Women:
Women Help Women is non-profit organization that supports access to reproductive health services and encourages collaborative feminist activism. Our founding principle is that reproductive health products, including contraceptives and abortion pills, belong in women's hands. We partner with organizations around the world, including in England, Ireland and Northern Ireland, to make sure that every woman has support to make her own decisions about her reproductive health and life.