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Concept: Constitution of Ireland

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Objectives To assess self reported outcomes and adverse events after self sourced medical abortion through online telemedicine.Design Population based study.Setting Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, where abortion is unavailable through the formal healthcare system except in a few restricted circumstances.Population 1000 women who underwent self sourced medical abortion through Women on Web (WoW), an online telemedicine service, between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2012.Main outcome measures Successful medical abortion: the proportion of women who reported ending their pregnancy without surgical intervention. Rates of adverse events: the proportion who reported treatment for adverse events, including receipt of antibiotics and blood transfusion, and deaths reported by family members, friends, or the authorities. Care seeking for symptoms of potential complications: the frequency with which women reported experiencing symptoms of a potentially serious complication and the proportion who reported seeking medical attention as advised.Results In 2010-12, abortion medications (mifepristone and misoprostol) were sent to 1636 women and follow-up information was obtained for 1158 (71%). Among these, 1023 women confirmed use of the medications, and follow-up information was available for 1000. At the time women requested help from WoW, 781 (78%) were <7 weeks pregnant and 219 (22%) were 7-9 weeks pregnant. Overall, 94.7% (95% confidence interval 93.1% to 96.0%) reported successfully ending their pregnancy without surgical intervention. Seven women (0.7%, 0.3% to 1.5%) reported receiving a blood transfusion, and 26 (2.6%, 1.7% to 3.8%) reported receiving antibiotics (route of administration (IV or oral) could not be determined). No deaths resulting from the intervention were reported by family, friends, the authorities, or the media. Ninety three women (9.3%, 7.6% to 11.3%) reported experiencing any symptom for which they were advised to seek medical advice, and, of these, 87 (95%, 87.8% to 98.2%) sought attention. None of the five women who did not seek medical attention reported experiencing an adverse outcome.Conclusions Self sourced medical abortion using online telemedicine can be highly effective, and outcomes compare favourably with in clinic protocols. Reported rates of adverse events are low. Women are able to self identify the symptoms of potentially serious complications, and most report seeking medical attention when advised. Results have important implications for women worldwide living in areas where access to abortion is restricted.

Concepts: Medicine, Pregnancy, Surgery, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Abortion, Abortifacient, Constitution of Ireland

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The provision of abortion services in the Republic of Ireland is legally restricted. Recent legislation that has been implemented allows for abortion if there is a real and substantial risk to the woman’s life, but in general Irish women must travel abroad for abortion services. The aims of this study were to investigate the clinical experiences of Irish obstetric non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) that work in this environment and to assess their attitudes towards termination of pregnancy (ToP).

Concepts: Pregnancy, Childbirth, Obstetrics, Republic of Ireland, Republic, Gynaecology, Irish people, Constitution of Ireland

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Access to abortion remains a controversial issue worldwide. In Ireland, both north and south, legal restrictions have resulted in thousands of women travelling to England and Wales and further afield to obtain abortions in the last decade alone, while others purchase the ‘abortion pill’ from Internet sources. This paper considers the socio-legal context in both jurisdictions, the data on those travelling to access abortion and the barriers to legal reform. It argues that moral conservatism in Ireland, north and south, has contributed to the restricted access to abortion, impacting on the experience of thousands of women, resulting in these individuals becoming ‘abortion tourists’.

Concepts: United States, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Parliament of the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, Constitution of Ireland

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Ireland’s private health insurance market operates on the basis of community rating, alongside open enrolment and lifetime cover. A risk equalisation scheme was introduced in 2003 to bolster community rating. However, in July 2008 the Irish Supreme Court set aside this scheme, on the basis of the interpretation of community rating in Irish legislation. This decision has significant implications for the Irish private health insurance market. This paper reviews the development of the market, focusing in particular on community rating. The breakdown of community rating in a market with multiple insurers with differing risk profiles is discussed. Applying this to the Irish market, it can be seen that the Irish Supreme Court judgment has significant implications for the application of community rating. Specifically, while community rating operates within plans, it no longer operates across the market, leading to high-risk lives paying more, on average, than low-risk lives. It has also led to greater opportunities for insurers to engage in market segmentation. This may have relevance for the design and operation of other community rated markets.

Concepts: Health insurance, Risk, Economics, Risk management, Insurance, Supreme court, Hedge, Constitution of Ireland