Women in Northern Ireland are putting themselves at risk if they have abortions at home, the NI Department of Health (DoH) has said.
The warning came as it was revealed pro-abortion group Alliance for Choice was holding an online seminar on “self-managed abortion”.
Safeguards preventing unsupervised abortion in the rest of the UK were removed under emergency coronavirus regulations in March.
Medical abortions involve taking two tablets. The first, mifepristone, is designed to kill the developing baby, and misoprostol induces a miscarriage to expel it from the womb.
Currently in Northern Ireland, mifepristone must be taken under supervision, a precaution criticised by Alliance for Choice.
However, the DoH stressed that medical abortions required “direct medical supervision within the health and social care system.”
Dr Anne McCloskey, a GP in Londonderry, warned: “there are very important health dangers of women self-administering potent and prescription only medication without medical supervision”.
Under emergency rules introduced in March, women in the rest of the UK have been able to take abortion pills at home up to ten weeks into the pregnancy, following an online or phone consultation with a doctor.
At the time the Westminster Government said the measure would last up to two years or until the pandemic was over, whichever came first. However, it has since said it will consult on making the change permanent.
In May it was revealed that there were at least nine cases of women taking the pills after the ten-week limit. At least one baby is known to have died after its mother took abortion pills while 28 weeks pregnant.
The Scottish Government has also recently opened an online consultation on making unsupervised home abortions a permanent option.
As with England and Wales, the changes could become permanent as ministers consider extending the emergency measures.
The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert said: “It is appalling that the Scottish Government is using the COVID crisis to push for home abortions to become the norm, depriving more women of opportunity for reflection and proper medical supervision and support.”
Michael Robinson, of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Scotland), added: “The home abortion provision is a travesty that should never have been introduced. Allowing women to take powerful drugs at home, alone, with no medical supervision shows a complete lack of care and respect for women, as well as further devaluing the value of human life in the womb.”