Dr. Patricia Lohr discusses the dangers of online bought abortion medications, writes Ryan McDonnell.

The Citizens' Assembly met last the weekend to continue its considerations for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which defends the right to life of the unborn with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. Dr. Lohr discussed how "the biggest risk with purchasing medications over the Internet is not the regiment itself. It's that there are some people selling fake medicines so they may not work or they may be selling some sort of unknown compound which could cause them harm. With medical abortions, the common risks are bleeding related or having tissue left behind or that the abortion will not work. The risk of having a failed procedure is higher with medical than with surgical, albeit extremely low; it is a fewer than 1% failure rate."

The abortion pill, or mifepristone and misoprostol, is a medicine that ends an early pregnancy. In general, it can be used up to 70 days—10 weeks—after the first day of a woman's last period. Any later than this, a woman would need an in-clinic abortion.

The possibility of accidently purchasing fake or poor quality abortion pills appears to be down to a person’s level of research of an organisation’s reputation, according to Dr. Lohr. "The purchasing of mifepristone and misoprostol over the internet from an organisation that is known to provide the real medications, does some screening to make sure the women doesn’t have any reasons why she shouldn’t use these medicines, and can provide some kind of degree of after care and advice if a woman has questions, is very safe."

When 16-year-old Michael Cornacchia died after taking what he thought was cocaine, the HSE issued the warning: ‘All drug users are advised that there is no guarantee that the drug you think you are buying and consuming is in fact the drug you are sold.’

This highlights what needs to be taken into account if Ireland repeals the Eighth Amendment and allows the purchasing of the abortion pill. If the abortion pill is brought into Ireland for online public purchasing then online providers should be certified by the state or should be sold by one trusted provider to guarantee an abortion pill is what it says it. Along with this the provider needs to do screening to make sure the women doesn’t have any contraindications or reasons why she shouldn’t use the abortion pill. Otherwise "there is no guarantee that the drug you think you are buying and consuming is in fact the drug you are sold."