Marie Stopes says it has ‘no plans’ to open abortion clinics in Republic

Health charity says it is paying close attention to referendum on Eighth Amendment

 

Abortion providers Marie Stopes said it has no plans to open clinics in the Republic of Ireland if the Eighth Amendment is repealed.

If Friday’s referendum passes, the Government plans to bring in new laws that would allow abortion without restriction up to 12 weeks of pregnancy through a GP-led service. Later abortions would also be permitted under limited conditions.

Medical professionals will be able to object to the administration of terminations under Government proposals.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed he will allow for GPs, obstetricians and gynaecologists to conscientiously object to providing terminations in medical settings.

In terms of the cost of such terminations, it would depend on the deals struck for the supply of the medication used.

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In British abortion clinics women take a combination of mifepristone and misoprostol either orally or vaginally and usually over a period of between 24 and 48 hours, although the interval may be as short as six hours.

The initial dosage is administered in the clinic with the follow-up pill taken by the patient themselves, and women typically do not avail of any aftercare treatment.

A combination of two medications would be prescribed who are under twelve weeks pregnant. The first medicine, mifepristone, would end the pregnancy by blocking the hormone progesterone. The second medicine, misoprostol, would make the womb contract, and induce the loss of a pregnancy.

Surgical abortion would take place in a hospital setting and would most likely only be performed on women who experience complications through medical abortion or on women who are more than 12 weeks pregnant who have exceptional circumstances. This includes a serious risk to the life or health of the mother, a determination the foetus has a condition likely to lead to death before, or shortly after, birth and emergency cases, where there’s an immediate risk to the mother.

Managing Director at Marie Stopes UK, Richard Bentley said: “Each year, around 1,500 women travel from the Republic of Ireland to our clinics in England for treatment. We don’t think it’s right that women have to cross a sea to receive safe, legal abortion care, and we hope the upcoming referendum will be the first step in addressing this. Women deserve better than the law as it stands,” he said.

“Currently, there is no plan for Marie Stopes International to provide services in the Republic of Ireland, but we will be paying close attention to the referendum,”he said.

The department of health in the UK said that there were more than 3,265 abortions performed on women resident in the Republic of Ireland in 2016.

This represents more than two-thirds of all of the abortions carried out on women from outside of England of Wales – the highest for any country outside the UK by some distance. Next is the United Arab Emirates with 110 procedures, according to the official figures.

In the UK, Under the Abortion Act of 1967, terminations are legal up to 24 weeks but if there is a substantial risk to the life of the mother or foetal abnormalities, there is no time limit.

Abortions can be carried out at an NHS hospital or licensed clinic and are typically free of charge; 98 per cent of procedures are funded by the health service, according to the latest government figures.

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