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Every TD and Senator contacted re Limerick abortion scandal

Both the Life Institute and Nurses & Midwives for Life have written to every TD in the Dáil, and to every Senator, to inform them regarding the shocking Limerick abortion case where a woman almost died - and to urge them to take action. 

Last month, medical experts published a case report explaining that a woman in Limerick almost died when she was prescribed abortion pills without an ultrasound, thereby missing that her pregnancy was ectopic and the baby was lodged in the fallopian tube. 

Medical experts have warned that the practice of not providing pregnant women with an ultrasound before having an abortion could lead to death, stating that it is “paramount” that pregnant women are provided with an ultrasound before taking abortion pills.

In fact, in 2018, Carol Nolan TD proposed an amendment urging Simon Harris to ensure that such ultrasounds were provided. He sneeringly refused.  

See our emails to TDs below:

A chara, 

We are writing to bring your attention to an important medical case involving a woman who required emergency life-saving intervention in University Maternity Hospital Limerick after taking abortion pills prescribed by her GP without being offered an ultrasound, thereby missing an ectopic pregnancy. 

The case report, published in March 2024 in the Irish Medical Journal, was authored by six medical experts working in Obstetrics and Gynecology in the hospital - who warned that women may die if the practice of failing to provide an ultrasound before abortion continued. 

The report can be read here.  The KEY ELEMENTS of the case, as described in the IMJ, are as follows. 

A woman had been prescribed abortion pills by her GP, but – as is routine practice – the GP had not performed an ultrasound, and the fact that her unborn baby was lodged in her fallopian tube, and not her womb, was therefore missed.

This is called an ectopic pregnancy and it is extremely dangerous, because, as the baby grows, the tube can rupture leading to massive bleeding, organ failure, shock, and death. 

Identifying the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy – abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding – is key to diagnosis and life-saving intervention. But if a woman who has an ectopic pregnancy has also taken abortion pills prescribed by her GP, and no ultrasound has been performed, then the symptoms of the rupturing tube can be mistaken at first for the symptoms of the abortion pill.

That’s what happened to the woman who was brought by ambulance to University Maternity Hospital Limerick suffering severe pain and in hypovolemic shock – an emergency condition in which severe blood or other fluid loss makes the heart unable to pump enough blood to the body, which can cause many organs to stop working.

She was gravely ill, and in a life-threatening situation, requiring “immediate resuscitation” before having her ruptured fallopian tube removed. In other words, this woman almost died. 

She had taken abortion pills under care of her GP two weeks previously, but since no ultrasound had been performed, the fact that the growing baby was not in her womb, but in the fallopian tube, was an unknown complication.

And when the symptoms of a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy rupture begin – the pain, the bleeding – they are easily confused with the symptoms of taking prescribed abortion pills.

The doctors noted that offering an ultrasound to check against ectopic pregnancy was “not routine” when a woman sought abortion pills – and warned that this could result in masking symptoms and signs of ectopic pregnancy in patients having an abortion, and could lead to death due to misdiagnosis and the overlap of symptoms of ectopic pregnancy and abortion.


Their findings in regard to the necessity for ultrasounds - and the warning to the authorities in this regard - is crystal clear: if the 'routine' practice of failing to provide ultrasounds continues, then women can die. 

After the publication of the case study, other medical experts, including Dr Trevor Hayes, who is a Consultant Obstetrician Gynaecologist, said that if the failure to provide ultrasounds continued, it was only a matter of time before a woman died. Dr Hayes said that it was "paramount" that ultrasounds be offered before a woman takes prescribed abortion pills. 

We are therefore writing, not just to bring this alarming case to your attention, but to urge you to take action.

Please urge the Health Minister Stephen Donnolly to read the case, take heed of the warnings from medical experts, and to change the policy immediately to ensure that GPs and Clinics must perform ultrasounds before prescribing abortion pills. 


Photo Credit: Nejron Photo / Shutterstock


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