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Woman almost dies after ectopic pregnancy, which may have been masked by abortion

A paper published in the Irish Medical Journal has revealed that a woman almost died from an ectopic pregnancy after having a medical abortion.

The paper, released on 21 March 2024, reveals that a woman from Limerick had a medical abortion two weeks prior to being admitted to hospital for an ectopic pregnancy. The paper states that this episode “could have been prevented by an ultrasound for location of pregnancy”.

Under normal circumstances, the early embryo should implant in the uterus. However, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, usually in one of the fallopian tubes.

The paper explains that “Offering an ultrasound to confirm IUP [intrauterine pregnancy] to patients requesting abortifacients is not routine & this practice may result in masking symptoms & signs of EP [ectopic pregnancy] in patients having abortion and result in mortality due to misdiagnosis and overlap in symptoms of EP and abortion”.

The paper goes on to add that confirming pregnancy location before a medical abortion has the merit of “reducing morbidity and mortality”.

Eilís Mulroy, spokesperson for the Irish pro-life group, the Pro Life Campaign, said “Telemedicine has removed the requirement that a woman even meet her GP before receiving the abortion pills, which precludes the possibility of an examination let alone an ultrasound. Notably, this alarming case in Limerick happened under the current telemedicine regime”.

At Home Early Medical Abortion (Review) Bill

In December last year, Carla Lockhart, MP for Upper Bann, tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) to reinstate in-person appointments before a medical abortion as an important safeguard for the safety of women and to help prevent abortion coercion.

In an apparent reference to the recent tragic case of Carla Foster, who had an illegal abortion at between 32 and 34 weeks gestation, the EDM notes that “recent illegal late-term abortions of viable unborn babies would not have been able to occur had in-person appointments to accurately assess gestational age been required”.

The EDM was launched in support of the At Home Early Medical Abortion (Review) Bill currently making its way through the House of Lords. The Bill specifically requires the Government to review whether in-person medical appointments, during which the gestational age of the pregnancy can be accurately determined before an at-home abortion occurs, should be reinstated.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “Thankfully the woman in this case did not die, but, as the medical report makes clear, this whole episode could have been avoided if an ultrasound had been carried out ahead of time”.

“With the introduction of telemedicine abortion, there is no requirement for a woman seeking an abortion to see a medical professional in person at any stage of the process. Reinstating in-person appointments ahead of an abortion would make these situations less likely to occur”.

Dear reader,

You may be surprised to learn that our 24-week abortion time limit is out of line with the majority of European Union countries, where the most common time limit for abortion on demand or on broad social grounds is 12 weeks gestation.

The latest guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks. The latest research indicates that a significant number of babies born at 22 weeks gestation can survive outside the womb, and this number increases with proactive perinatal care.

This leaves a real contradiction in British law. In one room of a hospital, doctors could be working to save a baby born alive at 23 weeks whilst, in another room of that same hospital, a doctor could perform an abortion that would end the life of a baby at the same age.

The majority of the British population support reducing the time limit. Polling has shown that 70% of British women favour a reduction in the time limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks or below.

Please click the button below to sign the petition to the Prime Minister, asking him to do everything in his power to reduce the abortion time limit.