Online Abortion Pill Sales Rising in UK


The number of abortion pills being bought online in Britain is increasing, data shown to a BBC programme suggests. Government figures show 375 doses, sent to addresses in England, Wales, and Scotland, were seized in 2016, compared with just five in 2013. Taking the pills while pregnant without medical approval is illegal in the UK.


The British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), Britain’s largest abortion provider, said as awareness of the online pills increased, more women were using them. BPAS is supporting a bill, proposed by Labour MP Diana Johnson, to be debated in the House of Commons next month, which seeks to decriminalise abortion entirely.


The figures, from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)—which regulates medicines in the UK—show there were 375 pills seized last year, up from 270 in 2015 and 180 in 2014. The seizures were made during the MHRA’s annual week-long raids, known as Operation Pangea, at places like postal hubs where foreign post is kept before being distributed to local post offices.


Clara Watson, education officer for the charity Life, said the promotion of buying abortion pills online was dangerous. “Some women aren’t suitable for the abortion pill and may suffer from blood clots, there may be other underlying health issues, they may not know how far along they are. It’s too risky,” she said.


Two women have been jailed in the UK for using abortion pills bought online to procure late abortions. In 2012, 40-year-old Sarah Catt was jailed for eight years for terminating her pregnancy with pills she had bought online when she was 39 weeks pregnant. Natalie Towers, 26, was sentenced to two-and-a half-years in 2015 after using the pill to terminate her pregnancy while she was between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.

BBC. February 15.

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