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Women buy pills online for 'home abortions'

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  • Women are buying pills on the Internet so they can have abortions at home
  • Women from countries where abortion is restricted using Web site
  • One in 10 women using pills go on to need surgery due to complications
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(CNN) -- Women living in countries where abortion is restricted are using the Internet to buy medication enabling them to perform an abortion at home, but one in 10 need surgery afterwards, according to new research.

Women are using the Internet to buy abortion pills online, with one in 10 needing further medical care afterwards.

Hundreds of women in more than 70 countries have used the Internet site Women on Web to purchase the drugs for $110 a time, the BBC reported.

Women on Web is available in five languages and offers the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. It says a combination of the pills causes the non-surgical termination of a pregnancy and can be used up to the ninth week.

The Web site says it helps women "gain access to a safe abortion with pills in order to reduce the number of deaths due to unsafe abortions."

However, a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that 11% of 400 customers went on to need a surgical procedure -- either because the drugs had not completed the abortion or because of excessive bleeding, the BBC reported.

The Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland, where abortion is restricted, told the BBC Women and the Web was "helpful and reputable", but on two occasions women bought drugs without appropriate medical information and needed medical help after experiencing complications.

However, Northern Ireland FPA director Audrey Simpson added that it was "encouraging" women there to break the law.

"As an organization, we have to work within the law. We're really concerned about women accessing the rogue sites -- we're hearing about it and we know it's happening," Simpson told the BBC.

"There are potentially serious medical complications for women from sites which aren't well managed and this could be the new era of backstreet abortions."

The anti-abortion group Comment on Reproductive Ethics told the BBC it was taking abortion "into the shadows."

Spokeswoman Josephine Quintavalle said: "This is very worrying indeed. It represents further trivialization of the value of the unborn child.

"It's like taking abortion into the shadows. These drugs have side-effects and tragedies will increase."

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