News Release // 26th March 2024

Shocking New Revelation: Simon Harris’s decision to reject mandatory ultrasounds in abortion has put women’s lives at risk

A paper published in the Irish Medical Journal on 21st March 2024 has revealed that a woman almost died from an ectopic pregnancy three days after having a medical abortion in Limerick.[1] The absence of an ultrasound allowed a situation where the 24-year-old woman in question had a medical termination and was experiencing an undetected ectopic pregnancy. Three days later she was treated in hospital.

Pro Life Campaign spokesperson Eilís Mulroy said:

“This shocking story from Limerick shows the disastrous impact of the decision by the Government in 2018, and by then-Minister for Health Simon Harris in particular, to reject out of hand an amendment which would have mandated an ultrasound before an abortion could be carried out. The amendment tabled in 2018 would have meant that issues like the existence of an ectopic pregnancy would’ve been caught before the woman had an abortion, which would’ve avoided such dangerous and life-threatening outcomes. As the WHO describe, medical abortion can make undiagnosed ectopic pregnancies particularly difficult to identify, since the symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and a medical abortion can be so similar.[2]

“In 2018, Minister Harris rejected the proposed amendment out of hand and dismissively described it as ‘subject[ing] every woman to an ultrasound.’ He rejected the amendment on the spurious grounds that ‘this is about choice’.[3] Now we are seeing the consequences of his reckless decision which leaves women at increased risk of an unidentified ectopic pregnancy, which can rupture, resulting in life-threatening internal haemorrhage.

“The problem has been further exacerbated by the introduction of telemedicine abortion under Simon Harris’s watch in early 2020, despite having made a commitment in 2018 that ‘absolutely, termination of pregnancy services in Ireland is not going to be done by telemedicine.’[4] Telemedicine has removed the requirement that a woman even meet her GP before receiving the abortion pills, which precludes the possibility of an examination let alone an ultrasound. Notably, this alarming case in Limerick happened under the current telemedicine regime.

“The Government needs to immediately end telemedicine abortion and make provision for the widespread use of ultrasound before the termination of pregnancy.”



[2] World Health Organization, 2012. Safe abortion: technical and policy guidance for health systems. 2nd ed. Geneva: World Health Organization.