Health

Website Assists Women With Performing Own Abortions

| by Lauren Briggs

International advocacy group Women Help Women launched an online health consulting group to assist women in terminating their pregnancies at home.

"It is the right of EVERY woman to control her own life," reads the abortion section of Women Help Women's website. "We trust that you know your needs, and can make your own decisions about your own life and situation, your future."

Although most women in the U.S. who have abortions do so under medical care, studies show that some terminate their pregnancies on their own, with no medical assistance, reports The Guardian. Many of these occur near the U.S.-Mexico border, as some abortion pills can be purchased over the counter in several Central American countries.

"Women in the U.S. have been and are using the pills without good guidance," said Women Help Women's spokeswoman, Susan Yanow. "If a woman is anxious and has the pills in her hand, and doesn't know what to do ... we can help her understand what to do. We can help her understand what signs to look for, and what's going on."

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The website offers an e-service in which a woman can fill out a questionnaire about her pregnancy. From there, she can order the pills by mail or receive counseling to assist her as she takes the pills on her own. Due to potential legal complications, the website is designed to delete any messages sent or received within a week.

"People are not being advised to use the pills," explained Yanow. "They're being advised if they've already decided to use the pills. What drives this project is the knowledge that women have been managing this on their own."

Some experts are hesitant to approve at-home abortions, as medical professionals can offer valuable assistance like monitoring risks, performing an ultrasound to confirm the stage of pregnancy, calculating the correct dosage and teaching patients to look out for certain complications.

"In general, I would say there's kind of a growing recognition that from a safety or a medical perspective, we have few few concerns about" women using abortion drugs on their own, said Daniel Grossman, a University of California-San Francisco clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology. "Especially if we're talking about women using misoprostol on their own. It's a very safe and effective medication. If women have information about how to use it, then women can safely use it on their own."

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The website recommends using misoprostol and/or mifepristone, saying that they "can be safely used at home in the first nine weeks of pregnancy" to effectively induce a miscarriage.

"Millions of women have used this method safely," the site says.

Sources: The Guardian, Women Help Women / Photo credit: Michael Chen/Flickr

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