Warning over illegal abortion drugs

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2012, 12:00am


Women who use abortion drugs they buy illegally are putting their lives at risk, says a family planning group offering abortion by medication.

The Family Planning Association of Hong Kong began a trial of medication-induced, as opposed to surgical, abortion in November last year, and will continue to offer the treatment after it proved successful in 96 of the first 100 cases.

Medication has been used in 160 abortions, a quarter of the total, since November.

But despite the success of the pilot scheme, the association's Dr Sue Lo Seen-tsing warns that abortion drugs are dangerous if used without medical supervision, as well as illegal. 'We know that many people buy abortion drugs - sometimes overseas or online - to perform abortions at home, and this is very worrisome,' Lo said.

Abortions are illegal unless carried out at government-designated institutions. The consent of two doctors is required. 'There are misconceptions that using abortion drugs is a safer way and is less harmful to the body. In reality, it is also a dangerous and complicated procedure,' Lo said.

Drug-induced abortion is only suitable in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

The method consists of taking two drugs - the first of which would cause the embryo to detach from the uterus, while the second would cause the uterus to contract and discharge the embryonic tissues, in a form similar to a miscarriage.

Association clinic manager Maggie Lau Mei-ho said: 'Some women found the process long and more painful, with many saying that the experience had left a grim impression on them. Some said seeing the discharged remains of the embryo was scary. Most felt they didn't want to go through the process ever again.'