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Concern that Irish women are accessing abortion drugs online

The news comes after a doctor who carried out a botched abortion on an Irish woman in 2006 was struck off the medical register.

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

CONCERNS HAVE EMERGED for Irish women who may be accessing abortion drugs online.

The news comes after a doctor was struck off the medical register in the UK after being found guilty of misconduct related to five women – including one Irish woman.

On 2 December this year a General Medical Council (GMC) hearing ruled that Dr Phanuel Dartey should no longer be allowed to practice in Britain.

He was found guilty of misconduct over his treatment of five women, one of whom was treated at Marie Stopes International’s Ealing centre.

The Irish Independent reports that an Irish woman suffered a perforated treatment after undergoing the abortion carried out by Dr Dartey in 2006.

Tracey McNeill, Vice President and UK and Europe Director of Marie Stopes International, commented:

This was an isolated incident that happened over five years ago and Marie Stopes International suspended Dr Phanuel Dartey as soon as it occurred. Marie Stopes International screens all of our staff not only when they join us but on a regular basis. There is a comprehensive list of requirements that they must fulfil before they are employed by us including the provision of original certificates for clinical qualifications and medical indemnity insurance.

She said that Dr Phanuel Dartey forged his documentation and that “his dishonesty and misconduct are unacceptable”.

She said the company fully supports the decision taken by the General Medical Council and is “fully committed to providing [clients] with the highest standard of care and take all possible precautions to ensure their safety and well being”.

She said all of its doctors are registered with the General Medical Council and its centres comply with all current regulations and best practice.

When it comes to Irish women, McNeill said:

For some women, choosing to have an abortion is a very difficult decision: for the 2500 Irish clients we see each year this is exacerbated by the stigma they face from friends, family and employers at home, the inconvenience of having to travel overseas to access services, and the financial implications of this.

She added that the company works hard to make sure clients “receive the care they deserve” while in the UK, including subsidised services and assistance with travel – but there are concerns that once clients return to Ireland “they do not have access to high quality, comprehensive after care”.

We are also concerned about anecdotal evidence suggesting that women may be accessing medical abortion online and putting themselves at considerable risk by self-medicating.

McNeill added that, following a recent study stating that a majority of GPs in Ireland are in favour of easing restrictions on abortion in Ireland, and the announcement of a new group set up to address last year’s European Court of Human Rights ruling on abortion rights in Ireland, Marie Stopes International “feels that the time is right for Ireland to take a step towards better access to sexual reproductive health services for all women”.

Read: Ireland rejects UN calls to legislate for abortion rulings>

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