If you’re not sure how you feel about the pregnancy, you should consider counselling. The Family Planning Association provides crisis pregnancy counselling in Belfast and Derry. It can be contacted on its helpline number 0845 122 8687 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday, 9am to 4.30pm Friday. If you have always been anti-abortion and are only considering it now that you are in this position yourself, do get counselling and make sure you make a decision that fits with your conscience.
My Body my Choice.
(Photograph © Jess Hurd 2008)
Abortion is not available in Northern Ireland unless a woman’s life is in immediate danger. If you are pregnant and don’t want to be, you cannot have an abortion here but will have to travel. If you are sure you want to end the pregnancy, you can contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) www.bpas.org.uk or Marie Stopes www.mariestopes.org.uk both of which provide not-for-profit private abortions in Britain.
While most people go to England, a private abortion there costs about £650. So, it is worth checking out clinics in Belgium and Holland where early abortions (up to 12 weeks) cost just 300 – 450 euro.
We recommend a clinic in Belgium called Sjerp-Dilemma-VUB. It does special deals for Irish women. They all speak good English, so when you phone they can explain how things work, provide over-the-phone counselling and they will schedule the procedure to fit in with flights.
The clinic has a feminist ethos, was established when abortion was still illegal in Belgium and we are told they treat women with great respect. The telephone number for Sjerp-Dilemma-VUB is 0032 2 629 23 40; Fax. 0032 2 629 23 43. These details, and the contact details for other clinics in Belgium and Holland are available on the women on waves website www.womenonwaves.org.
Women in Britain can use the abortion pill – RU486, or Mifeprisone – up to 9 weeks of pregnancy. But because it is only available to women whose GPs are involved in the procedure (and that is not possible in NI where abortion is illegal), women from NI cannot get a medical abortion in England. This is a pity as many women would prefer to have the kind of early miscarriage that it provides, rather than the vacuum aspiration procedure of a surgical abortion.
We are aware that many women now go onto the internet to get the abortion pill but you don’t know what kind of drugs you’re getting from these sites. If you insist on doing this, please use one of the following sites which we know to be safe and reputable:
Women Help Women www.womenhelp.org is an international group of activists, trained counselors and non-profit organizations and foundations that bridge the gap between reproductive rights advocacy efforts and service provision. With their e-services and online consultation women can request access to contraceptives, emergency contraceptives and medical abortion. A multilingual team of counselors is available to answer any questions you may have. The medical abortion service is provided in collaboration with a doctor and other medical experts.
Women on Web www.womenonweb.org also has a doctor who will consult and send out the abortion pill to women who are less than 9 weeks pregnant. The package with the pills arrives by courier so, if you determined to go down this route, do be sure to have it sent to an address where there will be someone you trust who can receive it.
Also, when you go to your doctor or hospital afterwards to check that the
‘miscarriage’ is complete, do remember that abortion is illegal
here. So anyone who wanted to avoid unnecessary suspicion would need to be consistent in stating that it was a miscarriage. For the same reason, they would also need to follow the instructions that are given with the pills about
taking the pill ‘buccally’ i.e. letting it dissolve in the space between your gum and your cheek. In that case it is unlikely to be detected in the patient's urine.