Woman in Limerick suffers ‘life-threatening’ complication after taking abortion pills

Women in the Republic of Ireland are at risk from undiagnosed “life-threatening” complications by not being offered routine ultrasounds before taking abortion pills, medics have warned.

In a paper published in the Official Journal of the Irish Medical Organisation, staff from University Maternity Hospital Limerick highlighted the case of a 24-year-old woman who suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, which could have been detected by an ultrasound before taking the abortion pills.

They warned that in such cases, where no risk factors for ectopic pregnancy are present, the current practice not to routinely perform ultrasounds before providing abortifacients “may result in mortality due to misdiagnosis and overlap in symptoms” with abortion.

‘Alarm bells’

When abortion was liberalised in 2018, the then Minister for Health Simon Harris, who is now Taoiseach, refused to adopt a proposal to offer ultrasounds to women to determine the gestational age of the baby and any complications.

Nurses and Midwives for Life said the case study “vindicates” their long-held concerns that it was “only a matter of time before a woman lost her life because of a failure to prioritise women’s safety over a desire to promote abortion”.

Pro-life campaigner Niamh Uí Bhriain said it should act as a “loud, ringing alarm bell to the Minister for Health regarding abortion provision and how it is endangering women’s lives”.


According to recent figures, the number of abortions in Ireland reached a record high last year.

Data released to Carol Nolan TD from the Health Service Executive revealed that GPs made 9,218 claims for “Combined termination procedure and aftercare” between January and November 2023, almost 23 per cent more than the year before.

The figures do not cover abortions performed in hospitals, which could take the overall number to more than 10,000.

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