According to LRT TV, Lithuania has legalized the abortion pill through nine weeks of pregnancy, calling it “simpler and safer” than a surgical abortion, though the abortion pill has been shown to be four times as risky as a first-trimester surgical abortion. The abortion pill regimen will be available in pharmacies with a doctor’s prescription.
“This method is simpler and safer compared to surgical abortion, as there is no need for surgical intervention and anaesthesia, and there is a lower risk of complications,” OB/GYN Vytautas Klimas told LRT TV. He had previously claimed that “there is no need to go to the hospital” when taking the abortion pill; however, research from the UK and the U.S. have shown that approximately six percent of women who take the abortion pill suffer complications serious enough to result in ER or urgent care visits.
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One study revealed that the abortion pill is four times more dangerous for women than a first-trimester surgical abortion. The abortion pill carries a high risk of incomplete abortion which can lead to the need for a follow-up surgical abortion. It also has the risk of infection and possibly death if that infection goes untreated.
According to LRT TV, a woman in Lithuania must first consult with an OB/GYN before taking the abortion pill and the doctor must give the woman all of the relative information about the abortion pill before prescribing it, according to the spokesperson for the Health Ministry, Inga Cechanovičienė.
Virgilijus Rudzinskas, a board member of the World Federation of Doctors who Respect Human Life, criticized the legalization of the abortion pill. “The women will be face-to-face with the obstetrician-gynaecologist. But a bigger team is needed to help her and save a human life,” he said. “There is no provision for a specialist consultation.”
He added, “My colleagues raise the question of whether we will be able to continue to follow that provision so that we are not forced to do things that are not in line with our conscience.” The Law on Medical Practice has allowed doctors to opt out of committing surgical abortions, but the legalization of the abortion pill calls into question whether or not those same conscience objection rights will be afforded. The law says that a doctor has the right to not partake in an abortion, but if a doctor prescribes a drug, the pharmacist may be required to fill it against his or her will.
Abortion is legal on demand in Lithuania until 12 weeks, according to the pro-abortion group Women on Waves. Until this month, most abortions were carried out using a D&C surgical procedure in which the child is suctioned from the womb in pieces. Pregnancy after 12 weeks is legal when the mother’s health is considered to be at risk, though induced abortion (intentional killing of the preborn child) is not medically necessary. According to the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, 4,500 abortions took place in Lithuania between 2015 and 2019, accounting for just over 11% of the 39,800 pregnancies that occurred in that time frame.