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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 27 January, 2020

TD helped 'dozens' of women take abortion pills

In many cases the women “under no circumstances would have been able to pay to travel to Britain and to pay for accommodation”.

SOCIALIST TD RUTH Coppinger says she’s helped “around two dozen” women access abortion pills advertised online in recent months.

The Dublin West deputy said there had been an upswing in awareness of the drugs since she and other pro-choice campaigners took part in a stunt at the end of October — travelling from Belfast by train, and bringing back the pills, which are not available in the Republic.

Coppinger and other activists swallowed the pills on their return to Connolly Station (below).

Source: Michelle Hennessy/

Earlier in October, an RTÉ investigation revealed that the number of seizures of the pills had more than doubled in the first ten months of the year, with more than 1,000 tablets found.

“A lot of women saw the abortion train back in October — they would have contacted me and they would have contacted other groups,” Coppinger said.

I helped them order pills from Women on Web.

They are “generally working class women” she said, who “under no circumstances would have been able to pay to travel to Britain and to pay for accommodation”.

In some cases the women got in contact because they didn’t know how to go about ordering the pills. In others, they didn’t have access to an address where the tablets could be sent.

As part of the RTÉ programme, Master of the Rotunda Dr Sam Coulter Smith said some women were presenting at his hospital with problems after taking the drugs.

If you are administering these drugs at the wrong dose and at the wrong intervals or by the wrong route then there is a risk of perforation in that situation and that is a very serious complication.

“We have seen people who have taken drugs to induce miscarriage, induce abortion, absolutely yes. Thankfully we haven’t run into many significant problems with them but we are certainly aware that it happens,” Coulter Smith said.

Source: Michelle Hennessy/

Coppinger said that with “any miscarriage there can be heavy bleeding and severe pain”.

“There’s nothing easy about having an abortion or about using these pills.”

She said she “wouldn’t be concerned” about negative reports of medical risks associated with the pills, as she had carried out her own research on the issue.

According to the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill, it’s an offence to “intentionally destroy unborn human life”. Anyone convicted can be sent to prison for up to 14 years.

“I think that the Irish State is happy to brush this under the carpet,” Coppinger said.

 I don’t think it wants to prosecute people over abortion pills.

The debate on abortion was reignited after a speech by Health Minister Leo Varadkar on Tuesday night, in which the Fine Gael TD described the current laws as too restrictive.

Coppinger — a constituency rival of Varadkar — said that his comments compelled him to act to change the law.

Full speech: Minister for Health on what is wrong with Ireland’s abortion laws

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