Irish PM: Only matter of time before a woman dies using online abortion pills

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Irish premier Leo Varadkar has said it is only a matter of time before a woman dies in Ireland as a result of using abortion pills bought online.

Mr Varadkar said women were increasingly importing pills online because of the current laws and they were being used unsafely.

The Taoiseach made the comments ahead of a referendum next week to liberalise Ireland’s strict abortion laws.

“It’s only a matter of time before somebody loses their life as a result of taking one of those pills over the internet,” Mr Varadkar said.

“It has happened in other countries.”

Mr Varadkar asked people to bear that in mind when they vote.

“Let’s not wait for this to happen,” he said.

“If there is a no vote on Friday I think it’s only a matter of time before somebody haemorrhages or bleeds to death or dies as a result of using these pills unregulated.”

Irish people will next week cast their vote on whether to repeal an amendment in the Irish Constitution, which gives equal right to life to the mother and to the unborn, and replace it with wording to allow for parliament to legislate for the termination of pregnancies.

If passed, it would see Ireland legislate for abortions for up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without restriction.

Currently, terminations are only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Mr Varadkar told RTE Radio One on Fridaying that a number of restrictions were planned.

“It won’t be unrestricted and it won’t be on demand,” Mr Varadkar said.

“No woman who is experiencing crisis pregnancy will be able to go into the pharmacy and bang the table and demand abortion pills. Not that I think anyone would ever do that.”

He said women who wanted to end a pregnancy would be required to see a doctor and have to wait 72 hours before making the decision.

Mr Varadkar added that a doctor would have to confirm that the pregnancy was less than 12 weeks.

The Taoiseach said next Friday’s vote was a once-in-a-generation decision for Irish people.

“It really defines how we are going to treat women in crisis for the next generation,” he said.

He said the Eighth Amendment had been inserted in the Constitution in 1983 and that people thought it would save lives and prevent abortion.

“It hasn’t,” he said.

Mr Varadkar added that every day nine women travel to the UK and other countries to terminate their pregnancies and more women were taking imported abortion pills.

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