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Press Release: FOI reveals BBC grossly exaggerated number of women directly ordering abortion pills from overseas websites

23 July – Data released today as a result of a Freedom Of Information request shows that the BBC grossly exaggerated the actual numbers of women in the UK who have ordered illegal abortion pills online from overseas.

The data obtained from a Freedom of Information Request to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency showed that between 2013 and 2016 only 6 parcels containing abortion pills were seized at the border.

BBC coverage disclosed the total number of abortion pills that have been seized each year since 2013, but did not disclose that only one or two parcels of abortion pills had actually been seized each year.

The BBC coverage implied that large numbers of individual women were directly ordering abortion pills from websites overseas, implying that there had been an increased demand from individual women for illegal abortion pills.

The Freedom of Information request released today shows that instead a couple of individuals had ordered parcels containing abortion pills.

The data has been released as abortion campaigners seek to use alleged demand from women for illegal online abortion pills as a rationale for introducing a new radical abortion law to England and Wales.

Operation Pangea seizures of abortion pills

Number of abortion pills seized:5180270375
Actual number of parcels (not reported by BBC):1122

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Clare McCarthy said:

“It is very disappointing that the BBC have misled the public around this. They appear to have mislead the public by omitting the vital point in their reporting that only one or two parcels a year had actually been seized, rather than hundreds. 

Anyone who read the original coverage on this would have been lead to believe that 100s of individual women were ordering abortion pills online from overseas providers. The data released today shows that this likely not the case at all.

In fact, only a very small number of parcels had been imported by either a couple of individuals or possibly by abortion campaigners to make it appear that there was a very high demand from individual women. The BBC have selectively reported this misleading figure, leading the public to believe there was much higher demand from individual women for abortion pills from online overseas providers than is likely actually the case.

We are calling on the BBC to correct all the coverage they have given this issue and publicly commit to balanced reporting on this issue in the future.”


  • For additional quotes and media interviews contact 07847 454108 or email press@righttolife.org.uk 
  • For further information on Right To Life visit www.righttolife.org.uk
  • The table provided as a result of the Freedom of Information request is included below: 

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