For over 20 years, scientific and medical advances have revolutionized how people can experience and get an abortion. Medication abortion — safe and effective abortion with pills — is one of these major steps forward. Many people choose abortion pills because they want flexibility and for their abortion to happen at home.
Today, people can safely and effectively manage their abortion on their own terms, without the support of an abortion provider or clinic, if they choose. Everyone should be able to choose the option that works best for them, whether that is care with a provider at a clinic or self-managing their abortion.
ABOUT MEDICATION ABORTION
Medication abortion is an FDA-approved method to end a pregnancy. Medication abortion consists of two medications: mifepristone and misoprostol.
The pills are so safe and effective that some people already obtain and use them on their own, despite the legal and logistical barriers, only seeking medical help in the rare circumstance that they experience complications.
Scientific studies have found that people who self-manage using pills with accurate information are able to do so safely and effectively.
Misoprostol can also be taken safely on its own. Though slightly less effective, it can be far less expensive and more accessible in restricted contexts.
These medications can be provided along with instructions about how and when to take the pills, what to expect, and possible side effects. Just like with other health issues that we treat on our own, if someone faces a rare or unexpected side effect, they seek medical attention.
POLITICIANS AIM TO PUSH ALL ABORTION OUT OF REACH
Anti-abortion politicians are standing in the way of all types of safe, effective, affordable methods of abortion care. In fact, between 2011-2017, politicians have passed more than 400 state laws that make it difficult – sometimes impossible – to get an abortion. They make abortion unaffordable and shut down clinics while attempting to shame and punish people who have abortions.
CRIMINALIZATION OF SELF-MANAGED ABORTION
Some people who end their own pregnancies are interrogated, arrested, and charged by law enforcement for a criminal act. There are five states with laws that make self-managing an abortion a crime. At least twenty-one people — possibly even more — have been arrested or prosecuted for ending their own pregnancy or for helping someone else end their pregnancy since 2000. Forty different types of laws that exist in nearly every state have been used to arrest and put a person in jail who ends their own pregnancy.
Arrests and prosecutions of people who seek to safely self-manage their abortions are likely to disproportionately impact the same people who are most affected by restrictions on abortion and other forms of criminalization: people of color, people who are struggling financially, immigrants, LGBTQI people, disabled people, young people, non-binary, gender expansive and others who face the most barriers to reproductive health care.
Visit If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice for more information on criminalization
If you or someone you know is being investigated, detained, arrested, or concerned they might be questioned by the police for having an abortion, contact the Repro Legal Helpline.
In many states, politicians have imposed regulations that create barriers to the use of medication abortion specifically, as well as to safe, effective, patient-centered, timely, efficient, and equitable abortion services generally. The regulations often prohibit qualified providers from providing services, misinform women of the risks of the procedures they are considering, overrule patients’ and clinicians’ medical decision making, or require medically unnecessary services and delays in care.