Thursday, April 27, 2017
New York Times (April, 27, 2017): Spreading Plan C to End Pregnancy, by Patrick Adams:
As access to clinical abortion becomes more restricted in the U.S., there are growing discussion about the legality and safety of self-induced abortions. And evidence suggests that more women may be considering self-induction as an option for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. Since 2011, researchers have documented a significant increase in google searches for self-induced abortion.
For many, non-clinical abortions raise concerns about safety. Unsafe, illegal abortions have led to high maternal mortality rates in countries where abortion is illegal and highly restricted. However, not all methods of self-inducing an abortion are inherently unsafe.
The reality, however, is that increasingly, self-induced abortion in the United States means using pills procured through the mail, much as it is in many other countries. Women on Web, a Netherlands-based nonprofit collective that pioneered the practice of putting the pills directly into women’s hands, has provided abortion medications to more than 50,000 women in 130 countries.
Women on Web and Safe2Chooae, another organization that provides abortion pills do not mail pills in the U.S. because of concerns about legal restrictions. Ironically, this has meant that U.S. women who are unable or unwilling to see a licensed abortion provider must resort to unregulated sites found on the internet. This poses the risk that pills may be counterfeit. And women who choose to self-induce also face legal risks.
“We’ve discovered 40 different kinds of laws that are potentially implicated when someone ends their own pregnancy,” said Jill E. Adams, chief strategist of the Self-Induced Abortion Legal Team, a nonprofit consortium formed in 2015 to support advocates who legally share information on self-induced abortion and to halt its criminalization. So far, she said, the S.I.A. team has identified 18 arrests related to self-induced abortion around the country, “but I’m afraid that’s just what made the news. I suspect the true number is significantly higher.”