They sent abortion medications (200 mg mifepristone and 1,200 μg misoprostol) to 1,636 women living in the Republic and Northern Ireland who used the WoW service from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2012.
The non-profit organization, based in the Netherlands, provides women with advice and abortion pills across 140 countries with restrictive abortion laws. About a quarter of the world's population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, leading many to take risky action into their own hands. The service's doctors record information on a woman's pregnancy and give her a prescription for abortion pills, and a third-party company fills the prescription and sends it to her in the mail.
A total of 1,000 women in Ireland were surveyed and followed up after using the abortion medication mifepristone and misoprostol.
The results reveal that nearly 95% of the women successfully ended their pregnancy without the need for surgical intervention.
The researchers said less than one per cent reported side-effects like nausea and fever - comparable to the rates for women who seek medical abortions at legal clinics. Seven women (0.7 per cent) reported receiving a blood transfusion and 26 (2.6 per cent) reported receiving antibiotics.
It remains unclear how the authors claim that "no one in the study died", given the impossibility of a woman performing a medical procedure done in secret being able to "self-report" her own death.
These figures are broadly in line with the number of women suffering complications after a supervised medical abortion.
The home abortion pill Mifegymiso first became available in Canada in January.
Each of these women had previously purchased abortion pills online through WoW, and reported back on their experiences.
The researchers reported their findings in the most recent edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ). Several of the researchers have an affiliation with the group.
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The internet has slowly changed the nature of "back-alley" abortions by making the abortion pill available to women across the world.
He told The Associated Press, "We now have evidence that self-sourced medical abortion that's entirely outside the formal health care system can be safe and effective".
Furthermore, the women were able to identify the symptoms of possibly serious complications, almost all of whom reported seeking in-person medical attention when advised.
However, the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act means that women can face life imprisonment for administering a drug to induce miscarriage, as the 1967 Abortion Act was not adopted in Northern Ireland.
"The risk to liberty is clear, but women also risk their health if they can't guarantee the quality or effectiveness of pills bought online".
ROSA launched a "Bus 4 Repeal" campaign in the lead up to International Women's Day this year, which saw members travel the country distributing abortion pills from a bus.
However, anti-abortion groups have criticised the study's credibility.
There's "no such thing as a safe abortion", Precious Life's director Bernadette Smyth said.
"It's safer than the alternatives [such as using a sharp object or a noxious substances] and it's also safer than continuing a pregnancy and delivering a baby", she added. As such, Norman and Dickens said, the sample size may be too small to detect the true risk associated with the treatment, and the complication rates reported could be an underestimate.
A woman who causes her own abortion from the moment she misses her period can go to prison for life under the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) under current United Kingdom law. "Women will always find a way to have abortions and we're just fortunate that these safe methods now exist".