So a team of global researchers led by Abigail Aiken at the University of Texas at Austin, analysed self reported outcome data submitted to a telemedicine clinic by 1,000 women four weeks after receiving and using the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to end an early pregnancy. Nearly all of them were less than 9 weeks pregnant when they consulted the group. The data was gathered by an online organization that issues abortion pills to women. Women living in Northern Ireland can only get legal access to abortions if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health. A survey of 1,000 women who purchased abortions drugs using an online service showed that 95 percent of medical interventions were successful.
"There is a good chance that women who did not follow up were more likely to experience medical complications than those women who were happy to participate", he added.
The final version of Labour's general election manifesto includes a watered-down pledge to work with the Northern Ireland Assembly on abortion. In the past decade, the group has helped about 50,000 women have a medical abortion at home.
The study has been welcomed by the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) which says the study proves that abortion drugs like mifepristone and misoprostol are safe.
Of 1,000 women who participated in the research seven required a blood transfusion, and 26 of them received antibiotics.
Of the 93 women who experienced symptoms for which the advice was to seek medical attention, 95% did so, going to a hospital or clinic. In the last few years, women have been prosecuted for doing their own abortions at home through online telemedicine. The women all filled out a questionnaire on the WoW web site, which was reviewed by a doctor.
'Our politicians are happy to outsource their responsibility to other countries and organisations that provide the abortion pill illegally'.
Pro-life advocates are warning that the pro-abortion group that supplied the data for the study is putting the lives of women at risk. But they also said she had to continue to carry the baby because of the country's abortion ban. "For many women throughout the South, Appalachia and the Midwest, where state laws have forced clinics to close ... self-sourced abortions can be safe as long as they're run through a sound model". Furthermore, an accompanying editorial in BMJ from Wendy Norman of the University of British Columbia and Bernard Dickens of the University of Toronto stated that it's already know that the abortion pill is effective, and that women in Ireland and similar places with quality health care could self-assess their symptoms and complications.
Until then, for the first time in history, women of all social classes in a legally restricted yet high resource setting have equitable access to a reasonable alternative: "medical abortion guided by physicians through telemedicine", they conclude. Women in these countries are often forced to resort to unsafe methods to end their unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. "Also, it does not remove from those women the risk of prosecution for having obtained abortion pills".
Study limitations included use of self-reported data on the outcome and complications of abortion, as well as the inability to ascertain whether the treatment for potential adverse events was appropriate or necessary.