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Two Simple Medications
Millions of people have used medication abortion — two simple medications — to safely and effectively end their pregnancies. Medication abortion is safer than Tylenol or Viagra.
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SMA in the News
Coronavirus is making it harder for people to access abortion services, especially for those who live in one of the states whose government officials have used the pandemic in an attempt to effectively ban the procedure. These extra barriers appear to have created a surge in interest in self-managed abortion, a method that typically involves buying abortion pills online, and administering them on one’s own without medical supervision.
A new report from Guttmacher suggests an upward trend in women trying to self-induce; the organization’s latest survey on abortion rates, from 2017, found that 18% of nonhospital facilities said they had treated at least one person for an attempted self-induced abortion, up from 12% when the data were last collected, in 2014.
The number of abortions performed in American clinics was lower in 2017 than in any year since abortion became legal nationwide in 1973, new data showed this week. But that does not count a growing number of women who are managing their abortions themselves, without going to a medical office.
With the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s crucial that we consider what would happen in a state that effectively outlawed abortion. We still hear stories about the dangers of unlawful abortion in the U.S. before Roe v. Wade made the procedure legal in all 50 states. The specter of the back-alley abortion and the imagery conjured of the coat hanger have loomed large. Whether used as a rallying cry to protect abortion rights, a warning, or a solemn remembrance of women’s lives lost, these symbols persist in the public imagination and the stories they represent are told and retold by those who lived through the era.
On Monday, 75 organizations, doctors, and researchers joined that public fight, signing an open letter that stands behind the work of Aid Access and articulates something healthcare providers have known for a while: that right now in the United States, the risk involved with seeking a self-managed abortion is legal— not medical.
The imagery makes Jill Adams, founder of the Self-Induced Abortion Legal Team, shake her head. “If I never see another coat hanger at a press conference again…” she said in a recent interview, trailing off wistfully. Adams is part of a new movement that advocates for a woman’s right to perform her own abortion. The women refer to home abortion as “self-managed” or “self-induced”—the sinister-sounding “back alley” isn’t in their vocabulary—and argue that it is both safer and more accessible than ever before.
At a time when access to abortion is being restricted on many fronts, advocates say being able to terminate a pregnancy through telemedicine and mail-order drugs would provide a welcome new option for women.
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