Repugnant abortion drugs should not be legalised or normalised in Northern Ireland

Today’s abortion pill judicial review backed by Amnesty international and other pro-choice lobby groups is part of an ongoing and relentless campaign to undermine Northern Ireland’s abortion law. This case being heard in the High Court today involves a challenge to the decision by Northern Ireland’s public prosecution service to prosecute a mother for procuring illegal abortion pills for her 15 year old daughter. The focus of this court case should not be Northern Ireland’s life-saving abortion laws, but the technical details surrounding the PPS decision to prosecute.

This is a deeply saddening case. It is well known that these powerful and potent drugs designed to end the life of a newly developing baby up until twelve weeks gestation (WHO guidelines) present serious physical and mental health risks to pregnant women. There is a host of known serious side-effects for use of the abortion pill drugs: misoprostol, mifepristone, and methotrexate including ruptured uterus, haemorrhaging, hepatotoxicity (liver damage) for the mothers, and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disease and malformation for their babies if the baby survives.

The French National Agency for medicines and Health Products Safety [ANSM] issued warnings about the gynaecological risks of Cytotec [misoprostol] in 2001 and 2013.The French national authority for health issued recommendations along similar lines in 2008 and 2015. French doctors continued to ignore these warnings and in March this year the drug was eventually banned in France.

In the United States the Federal drug agency states no data is yet available on the safety and efficacy of mifepristone in women with chronic medical conditions, and states women who are more than 35 years of age and who also smoke 10 or more cigarettes per day should be treated with caution because such patients were generally excluded from clinical trials of mifepristone.

The pro-choice lobby in their crusade to undermine Northern Ireland’s abortion law by legalising and normalising the use of these abortion drugs at home are doing women a great disservice. Not only do they ignore the new human life that is ended but also the trauma involved for women in delivering and then disposing off the remains of this new human life.

The repugnant reality of these drugs is that often the recognisable developing baby that is delivered is  disposed of along with other waste materials eventually ending up in the sewage system. The fact that a fifteen year old girl supported by her mother has undergone this tragic course of action is incredibly disturbing. How on earth can this ever be described as compassionate and progressive care?

Women in Northern Ireland facing unplanned pregnancies deserve genuinely life affirming quality support and care. In 2018 no woman should ever feel forced to take this drastic course of action. Our laws here in Northern Ireland should continue to carefully uphold the life health, dignity and well-being of both mothers and unborn babies.

Tracy Harkin