Women’s lives at risk after illegal supply of abortion pills exposed
Two pharmacists and a doctor are putting pregnant women at risk by illegally distributing abortion pills. They were discovered by undercover reporters working for the Sunday Times.
Although the 1967 Abortion Act states that abortion pills can only be taken under medical supervision, they were supplied for use at home without a prescription.
Dr Majeed Ridha said to an undercover reporter: “I will give it [the pills] to you, no worries, but as I told you it’s a serious job. If I give it to you, I don’t want to hear anything. No responsibility.”
The drug supplied in these instances is called misoprostol. It induces contractions which cause the womb to empty.
Just two pills are required for this, yet Ghulam Hussain, a pharmacist based in central London, sold an undercover reporter a box of 60 for £25. He told the reporter: “What you do with it is nothing to do with me.”
Experts are concerned that the unsupervised use of these pills presents a serious problem.
Dominica Roberts, head of the ProLife Alliance, said: “It is too easy for people to purchase these tablets. It’s horrifying.”
An informant told an undercover reporter that Dr Ridha would be willing to provide tablets. The reporter then called him to see whether he could supply pills to induce an abortion for a woman in the early stages of her pregnancy.
When the two met in a London hotel, Dr Ridha said he could do this and contacted a pharmacist he works with, Younan Estefanos, even though he had not met or medically assessed the pregnant woman.
Dr Ridha told Estefanos: “I’m going to send you somebody. Give him two plates, you know, two sheets, okay? Don’t label them, just give them to him.”
Concerning how they were to be used, Ridha said: “Put two tablets under the cervix of the uterus inside the vagina . . . she will drop everything in two hours. That’s the quickest way because it dilates the cervix and everything goes.”
He went on to explain: “[It] shouldn’t be suitable for any woman more than eight weeks pregnant because [at that time] . . . the baby is still water, fluid, no bone, no muscle. If it become bone and muscle, it will be killing the patient.”
The Sunday Times also discovered that misoprostol tablets could be purchased illegally on the internet.
One website, womenonwaves.org , even provided instructions on how to trick a doctor into providing the pills by pretending they are for a poorly older relative.
“Perhaps you can find a doctor willing to prescribe them. Usually one can expect more luck at the smaller pharmacies that do not belong to a chain,” the website also said.
The General Medical Council and the General Pharmaceutical Council have both said that they will investigate.
The British Pregnancy Advisory Service, one of Britain’s biggest abortion providers, failed in its High Court attempt last year to allow women to take misoprostol at home.
“This news is heart breaking and enraging in equal measure” said Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern.
“The lives of women and unborn children are at risk whilst such unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists are allowed to illegally supply misoprostol.
“They must be brought to justice and the need for tighter safeguards is clear.”