Belfast Telegraph

Bernie Smyth's fury as Mumsnet 'encourages NI women to buy illegal abortion pills'

By Claire McNeilly

A pro-life campaigner is calling for an influential parenting website to be closed down, claiming that it is promoting "mail-order abortions" in Northern Ireland.

Bernie Smyth from Precious Life accused Mumsnet of openly advertising the use of illegal abortion pills ordered by post.

The site's annual charity appeal is backing The Abortion Support Network (ASN) - a group that helps women from Northern Ireland to travel to England for terminations as well as advising those in the early stages of pregnancy on how to obtain pills.

Ms Smyth said Mumsnet could be colluding in a criminal act and called for a police investigation.

"This is really outrageous. It's completely wrong and it's illegal," she said.

"It's a lack of consideration for mothers and this site must be reported to the police and closed down immediately.

"It's totally hypocritical, which deeply concerns me. On the one hand, Mumsnet is presenting itself as a caring support network for mothers, but on the other it's advising women how to get a mail order, back-street abortion."

Ms Smyth said she was concerned at the blatant promtion of pills to terminate pregnancies.

"Who is going to deal with the after-effects of the provision of these pills?" the high-profile anti-abortion campaigner asked.

"I know a lot of young people use Mumsnet and I am concerned that this site is promoting these pills. How can they justify breaking the law?

"Women in Northern Ireland are already going to bogus sites for pills because abortion isn't available here.

"But there's no one to vet these sites or the pills and the actual danger with Mumsnet is that mothers who have used this site before will think that these pills are legitimate."

She added: "There is no follow-up care for these mothers. There is no real information on how they can get support in crisis pregnancies."

Abortion is illegal except in specific circumstances in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Procuring pills by post to terminate pregnancy at home is also illegal throughout the UK unless it is signed off by two doctors.

References to sending abortion pills by post seemed to have been removed from the site yesterday afternoon.

However, Mumsnet chief executive Justine Roberts said its website users believed women should have free choice when it comes to abortion.

"As we understand it, the Abortion Support Network signposts women to two charities that dispatch abortion pills after medical consultations," she said.

"The World Health Organisation lists the pills in question - misoprostol and mifepristone - on its essential medicines list.

"On the whole, Mumsnet users feel strongly that women should be able to choose whether to have an abortion, and that their health care systems should enable them to do so safely."

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