A new study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and collaborators suggests that Irish and Northern Irish women, obtaining medical abortion pills via online telemedicine report both successful terminations and low rates of adverse reactions.
The research team analyzed self-report outcomes succeeding medical abortions that were conducted outside the official health care setting via Women on Web or WoW, an organization that provides women with access to drugs utilized to induce abortion.
The findings reveal that 95 percent of self-managed and self-sourced medical abortions were successful. Women who required a blood transfusion was less than one percent and women who were prescribed antibiotics were three percent. Women successfully identified the symptoms related to potentially very serious complications and all were reported to have sought in-person medical intervention when advised.
“Our results show that telemedicine abortions provided by Women on Web are safe and effect,” said co-author James Trussell, the professor of economics and public affairs, emeritus at Prince University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Ireland and Northern Ireland’s abortion laws are very restrictive and in most circumstances abortion is turned into a criminal offense. Nevertheless, online telemedicine has fiercely altered abortion access.
“Irish and Northern Irish people who access or help others to access this pathway are choosing an option that has similar effectiveness rates to medication abortion performed in a clinic and has lower rates of complications than continuing a pregnancy to delivery,” said lead author Abigail Aiken, assistant profession at the University of Texas’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. “This study shows that medication abortion self-sourced and self-managed outside the formal healthcare setting can be a safe and effective option for those who rely on or prefer it.”
The researchers analyzed Wow’s data of 1,000 women in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, who self-sourced a medical abortion over three years. They focused on self-reported complications and outcomes, while accessing the women’s ability to self-screen for symptoms associated with potentially dangerous complications, along with their readiness to seek medical intervention.
The authors note that they are aware of the limitations of self-reporting, but stress it is the only practical method of follow-up in circumstances, where women self-source medical abortions outside official health care settings.
The study was published in The BMJ of Princeton University, Women on Web and the University of Texas at Austin.