Experiences and characteristics of women seeking and completing at-home medical termination of pregnancy through online telemedicine in Ireland and Northern Ireland: a population-based analysis

by Abigail RA Aiken, Rebecca Gomperts, James TrussellBJOG 2016; published online 17 October 2016. DOI: 10.1111/1471-0528.14401ObjectiveTo examine the characteristics and experiences of women in Ireland and Northern Ireland seeking at-home medical termination of pregnancy (TOP) using online telemedicine. This was a population-based study in Ireland and Northern Ireland between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2015. A total of 5,650 women requested at-home medical abortion through the online telemedicine initiative Women on Web.MethodsWe examined the demographics and circumstances of women requesting medical TOP and examined the experiences of the 1,023 women who completed TOP between January 2010 and December 2012. We conducted a content analysis of women’s evaluations and used logistic regression to examine factors associated with lack of emotional support during and after TOP.Main outcome measuresSatisfaction with TOP; feelings before and after TOP; emotional support during TOP.ResultsWomen requesting TOP were diverse with respect to age, pregnancy circumstances and reasons for seeking TOP. Among those completing TOP, 97% felt they made the right choice and 98% would recommend it to others in a similar situation. Women commonly reported serious mental stress caused by their pregnancies and their inability to afford travel abroad to access TOP. The feelings women most commonly reported after completing TOP were ‘relieved’ (70%) and ‘satisfied’ (36%). Women with financial hardship had twice the risk of lacking emotional support (odds ratio = 2.0, p< 0.001).ConclusionsThe vast majority of women who completed at-home medical TOP through Women on Web had a positive experience. These demonstrated benefits to health and well-being contribute new evidence to the debate surrounding abortion laws in Ireland and Northern Ireland.