Woman died of complications from a previous abortion in Dublin hospital: inquest

The revelation has touched off calls from pro-life activists for the overturning of the country’s recently passed abortion law.
Mon Nov 11, 2013 - 12:01 pm EST

DUBLIN, November 11, 2013 ( – The revelation that a young woman died in Ireland from complications of a stillbirth induction after a previous abortion has touched off calls for the overturning of the country’s recently passed abortion law. 

Thirty-year-old Bimbo Onanuga, a Nigerian-born resident of Dublin, died in March 2010 of internal bleeding when, while undergoing an induction, the baby was delivered through a rupture in her uterus into her abdominal cavity. An inquest found that the rupture was caused by scarring and thinning of the uterine wall caused by a previous abortion.

A report from Coroner Dr. Brian Farrell found that the “unrecognised perforation” of the uterus was a “principal risk factor” in the death, along with the use of the early-term abortion drug misoprostol, which had caused powerful uterine contractions. The inquest ruled the death a case of “medical misadventure” and found that no blame could be attached to the doctors or procedures of the hospital. 


Doctors at the Rotunda maternity hospital tried to save the woman with an emergency Caesarean section after she had gone into cardiac arrest, the Irish Times reports. 

Dr. Sam Coulter-Smith, Master of the Rotunda, told the Times that it was “probably reasonably safe to assume” that “the scarring had been caused by an unrecognised perforation during that procedure, which predisposed her to rupture”. 

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While The Times, the paper that instigated an international furore in the media at the death of Savita Halappanavar, said that the scarring was the result of a previous abortion, the Independent and the Mirror declined to mention the origin of the scarring in their coverage. This has prompted Niamh Ui Bhriain of the Life Institute to accuse them of a “cover up of the facts” placing “women’s lives in real danger”. 

“A pattern is now established in the Irish media where supporting abortion was more important than protecting women’s lives,” she told “This woman - and her baby - died because an abortionist cut through her womb and left her injured, yet this is being suppressed by the Irish media. Clearly abortion has now been shown to be a real and substantial risk to a mother’s life.” 

The Times also noted “concerns” from Ms. Onanuga’s family about the use of Misoprostol, described as an “ulcer medication” that is not licensed for inducing labour in Ireland. Dr. Coulter-Smith said, however, that the “off-license” use of drugs is “common” practice. 

Misoprostol was developed as an ulcer medication, but is widely sold by the Pfizer pharmaceutical company as part of the early abortion regimen widely known as RU-486. In 2000, the drug’s manufacturer issued a warning against such off-label use citing reports of uterine rupture and death associated with using misoprostol to induce labor. 

Ui Bhriain called on the government to repeal the Abortion Act, passed in July, and to “urgently put resources in place which inform women as to the real and substantial risk to their lives in undergoing an abortion.” 

  abortion, bimbo onanuga, ireland

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