Irish Customs seize 1200 deliveries of abortion drugs for desperate women

 Through a 'Freedom of information' request the pro-choice campaigning group Choice Ireland have revealed that over a thousand desperate women were denied an abortion last year because customs seized the medicine that they had ordered over the internet. In many cases these women were unable to travel to Britain because of poverty or because they were immigrants who felt unable to risk leaving Ireland lest they be refused readmission.

 The drugs seized were Misoprostol (1,118 units seized)  and Mifepristone (98),  both of which can be purchased on the internet. Women in Ireland who do not want to continue with a pregnancy and cannot travel are forced to risk such purchases because abortion remains illegal in all circumstances despite a Supreme court finding that abortions could be carried out if there was a substantial risk to the life and health of the mother. The government has failed to legislate for this despite two failed attempts to overturn this decision through referendum.

In a statement that did not acknowledge the reason that these women were taking such a desperate step the Irish Medicine Board told the Irish Times that “Counterfeit and illegal medicines pose a serious threat to public health. The board, in conjunction with the Revenue’s customs service and An Garda Síochána, continually monitors and investigates instances of illegal supply of medicinal products via the internet and other avenues and we actively enforce suspected breaches of the law,”

Choice Ireland spokesperson Sinead Ahern said, "It is time to face up to the reality that Irish women will go to desperate lengths and take huge risks to end pregnancies they feel they cannot continue. It is time to stop turning our backs on these women." She also pointed out that, "What the figures cannot tell us is how many women managed to obtain the drugs and to terminate pregnancies without medical supervision or perhaps even proper counselling. We do not know how many women received fake drugs that might pose significant risks to their health."

The Workers Solidarity Movement congratulated Choice Ireland for revealing the disturbing reality behind these seizures pointing out that, "Women have always tried to control their own fertility. Anti-abortion laws have resulted in back-street abortions and induced miscarriages. World-wide, one woman dies from a back-street abortion every three minutes. Winning full control over their own fertility is an essential step towards ending women's oppression. The technology has been developed under capitalism to make this both safe and possible. Women must have the right to use this technology to decide if and when to have children."

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