EUROPEAN UNION – Abortion by telemedicine across the EU

by Tamara Hervey, Sally Sheldon

International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics April 2019;145(1):125 28  (not open access)

This paper analyses an important set of legal issues raised by the telemedical provision of abortion pills. Focusing on the case of European Union (EU) law, it suggests that a properly accredited doctor seeking to treat a patient with abortion pills is entitled, in principle, to rely on EU rules of free movement to protect their access to patients in other member states, and women facing unwanted pregnancies likewise have legal rights to access the services thus offered. EU countries seeking to claim an exception to those rules on the basis of public health or the protection of a fundamental public policy interest (here, the protection of fetal life) will face significant barriers.

[Note: See for example the case in 1991 regarding free movement from Ireland to the UK to obtain an abortion, called Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Ireland) Ltd. v. Grogan (Case C-159/90, [1991]). This judgment is surely discussed in this paper but it’s not open access! It would be part of the basis of not being able to stop women from travelling across European borders for an abortion even today.]