Abortion pill can be used in NI

ABORTION pill Mifepristone is available in limited circumstances in Northern Ireland through the National Health Service (NHS) and private clinics, Health Minister Edwin Poots has confirmed.

The drug - which is not available in the Republic of Ireland where abortion is illegal - is used for the non-surgical termination of pregnancies.

Mr Poots said that according to the specified terms for its marketing authorisation the drug mifepristone - under the brand name Mifegyne - is licensed for use in a number of therapeutic indications.

The medical circumstances in which the drug can be used include the medical termination of developing intra-uterine pregnancy; softening and dilatation of the cervix uteri prior to surgical termination of pregnancy during the first trimester; preparation for the action of prostaglandin analogues in the termination of pregnancy for medical reasons (beyond the first trimester); and labour induction in foetal death in utero. (In patients where prostaglandin or oxytocin cannot be used).

Mr Poots stated: “The terms for marketing authorisation also state that for termination of pregnancy, Mifegyne (and the prostaglandin) can only be prescribed and administered in accordance with the countries national laws and regulations.”

The Health Minister outlined the circumstances in which the drug can be used in response to an Assembly Query from DUP colleague Jim Wells.

He said the circumstances also apply to private clinics.

“Ordering a supply of Mifepristone for use in a private clinic, as with other Prescription Only Medicines, must be in accordance with the Human Medicines Regulations which apply to both NHS/HSC and private health care facilities,” he stated.