The stigma and prosecution of self-administered abortions should end
Added: (Tue Jun 13 2017)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
12th June 2017
In just a few months since the Republican presidential win, more than four hundreds of abortion restrictions have been passed at state levels. In addition, 2017 has seen a confirmation of the Mexico City policy aka the Global Gag rule [ an international policy that forbids US family planning funds to reach non-governmental organizations, for pregnancy terminations or even advocating abortion].
Furthermore, in 338 state-level restrictions passed in between the span of 2010 and 2016, it is increasingly clear that abortion access is getting suppressed each day in and out in this country.
What will abortive care look like in the US?
Since plans have been proposed to defund major NGO abortive service providers, it will further shift the burden on already overwhelmed independent clinics, where millions will lose access to in-clinic services.
Abortions have existed since pregnancies. History has taught us that abortions cannot be regulated away. Only legal and in-clinic pregnancy termination can be accounted. It is, therefore, no surprise that “buy abortion pills online” or “how to have an abortion at home” have become quite commonly searched terms on Google.
Self-administrated abortions, however, have commonly been practiced by midwives, indigenous people etc. all over the world. What is new, however, is the prosecution of those who are involved in the termination by ideologically motivated prosecutors against the backdrop of clinic closures.
The criminalization of women seeking an abortion and their support networks must stop.
Prosecutions of pregnant women seeking to terminate pregnancies
Although some states have explicit restrictions on individuals terminating pregnancies without government-sanctioned physicians’ supervision, there are other 38 states that are trying to frame unsupervised pregnancy terminations as illegal medical practice. This is the situation, even though such attempts are unconstitutional under Roe vs. Wade.
In the absence of laws that openly criminalize people for accessing abortions, anti-choice legislators and prosecutors are instead twisting the present laws to criminalize people for the act itself and attack individuals.
The misuse of these laws means that even states where self-induced abortions are not forbidden outright, accessing and ingesting abortion pills or even herbal remedies with the intent to terminate one’s pregnancy can lead people to the court.
The answer to stopping these unconstitutional practices is to end the stigma surrounding self-induced pregnancy termination.
Diabolizing self-administered abortion
The first step towards ending animosity and injustice is to educate and reduce the stigma of abortion. On reason, lawmakers have gotten away with imprisoning women who ‘took matters into their own hands’ is because the public, in general, has forgotten about days when people used to safely terminate pregnancies in private.
Prosecutions target marginalized women [ typically immigrants, POCs and the poor] while relying on the public’s assumption that self-induced pregnancy terminations are dangerous.
It is time we end assumptions that self-administered abortions are dangerous
No one method is ideal for everyone, there are people who would rather have termination private than in-clinic and there are millions of reasons why women might choose the at-home procedure.
Medical abortion is the most common at home method, which involves the use of Mifepristone and Misoprostol, the two safest and listed by WHO as ‘essential medication for women’s healthcare’.
The above-given medication, have the efficacy rate of 97%-98% and rarely result in complications. Millions of women order MTP Kit online which has both the pills in the prescribed format to have an at-home procedure.
A recent study laid out reasons given by women seeking termination as to why at home procedures were the best option for them. Some respondents mentioned barrier to accessing in-clinic procedures, wanting to abort early, aversion to surgical tools/ anesthesia, financial/ privacy reasons and even preference for self-administration.
Medical experts opined that the concern with diabolizing self-induced pregnancy termination will result in making women fear to access in-clinic procedure. It will further distance women and make them nervous to access follow-up care.
More importantly, it should be noted that, legally, no woman needs to disclose that they have taken Mifepristone and Misoprostol abortion pills. As medical staff is often unclear about indicating self-induction, it will be safer to explain that you are pregnant and bleeding. By the time the woman seeks medical care, the misoprostol is long absorbed, leaving no trace that the patient is presenting anything other than a pregnancy complication, most likely a miscarriage.