The New York Times: Why America’s Abortion Rate Might Be Higher Than It Appears

By Claire Cain Miller and Margot Sanger-Katz

"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 — often by buying pills illicitly. 

These “invisible” abortions are hard to measure, so it’s unclear how much higher the true abortion rate is. But researchers say self-managed abortions have risen as abortion has become more restricted in certain states, and as more people have learned that effective pills can be ordered online or purchased across the border. 

“This is happening,” said Jill E. Adams, executive director of If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, which provides legal assistance to women seeking abortions. “This is an irreversible part of abortion care here in the United States.”

The black market for abortion pills has changed the landscape for those lacking easy access to an abortion clinic or preferring to have an abortion in private. The pills are harder to regulate than in-clinic abortions; they can be easily hidden and shipped, and women can take them at home and appear to have had a spontaneous miscarriage."

Read the full article here

NPR: With Abortion Restrictions On The Rise, Some Women Induce Their Own

"When Arlen found out she was pregnant this year, she was still finishing college and knew she didn't want a child.

There's a clinic near her home, but Arlen faced other obstacles to getting an abortion.

"I started researching about prices, and I was like, 'Well, I don't have $500,' " said Arlen, who is in her 20s and lives in El Paso, Texas. We're not using her full name to protect her privacy.

"So I was like, 'OK, there's gotta be other ways.' "

Her research led her to information about self-induced abortion using pills.

"For me it was ... like taking my power back. Like, 'I'm going to do this, some way or another,' " Arlen said. "I don't want silly people and the government making silly laws."

Read the full article here

LOREM IPSUM: Woman therapy

Woman therapy

SPEAKING OF FUNDING… For women having trouble owning their inner(uterine) lives, there’s Plan C, a group that provides access to online abortion pill providers and all the info needed to use them. Those at-home-use pills have always been safe and effective (they’re safer than Tylenol, let alone other abortion methods), but they’ve been suppressed by the FDA; just to give you a snapshot of the situation, they are available over the counter in Latin America, and the US’ conservatism is pretty much the only thing blocking that reality here. So, here’s the internet (and a number of women’s health experts) with a solution. Learn more, pass it on.

Read the full email blast here

VICE: The FDA Is Restricting Access to the Easiest, Safest Form of Abortion

By Marie Solis

“… But the report card shows that even sites without physician oversight are selling legitimate meds. Anyone who orders medication from the seven other sites listed on Plan C can expect to receive an intact package of pills.

“It’s safer than Viagra to use this method of ending a pregnancy, and that includes people taking these pills from a clinic as well as ordering them online,” said Plan C cofounder Amy Merrill.

Advocates say that by targeting Aid Access and maintaining the restrictions on mifepristone, the FDA is stubbornly resisting the future of abortion access. As attacks on abortion rights continue to chip away at Roe v. Wade—which could get overturned completely, or undermined to the point of meaninglessness—more people are going to take matters into their own hands: A study from the Guttmacher Institute found that in a 30-day period in spring 2017, there were more than 200,000 U.S. Google searches for at-home abortions. But whereas that once meant using a coat hanger or other crude, DIY instruments to end a pregnancy, the advent of abortion pills means self-managed abortion no longer carries with it the same health risks.”

Read the full article here.

The New York Times: Abortion Pills Should Be Everywhere

Farhad Manjoo

“… Amid growing restrictions on clinic-based abortions, the online pill market functions as a haven of last resort for desperate women. “The women who come to us don’t have any other alternatives,” said Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician and founder of Aid Access, which offers abortion pills online for about $90, with discounts for patients in financial straits. “They don’t have funds, or they are six hours away from the clinic, or they don’t have transport, they have small kids, they live in cars, there are situations of domestic violence — it’s just really bad situations.” In 2018, Gomperts prescribed the drug online to 2,581 patients.

But the pills aren’t just a way to evade today’s restrictions on abortion. Some activists argue that they can also remake tomorrow’s politics surrounding abortion — that the very presence of the underground market could force the authorities to loosen restrictions on abortion pills, eventually paving the way for an alternative vision for terminating a pregnancy in the United States: the inexpensive, safe, very early, private, at-home, picket-line-free, self-managed medical abortion.

“Did you feel a little rush when your pills arrived?” Elisa Wells, a director of the pill-advocacy group Plan C, asked me during a recent phone call. “It’s like, wow — it’s amazing that this really works.”

She’s right: I did feel a little rush when I got my first pills. I’d expected the whole thing to be onerous. And so, probing for hidden difficulties, I tried again, and again.

In the last year, I’ve ordered abortion pills from four different online pharmacies. The process was sometimes sketchy. There were poorly translated websites and customer-service reps messaging me over Skype with the greeting “yo.” I declined to pursue one order because the site asked me to wire money to a random address in India. After I filled out its consultation form, Aid Access sent me an email asking me if I really am pregnant, as I have a man’s name and “the woman must confirm” that she is ordering the drugs of her own accord; since I’m a man and not pregnant, I didn’t place the order.”

Read the full article here.

Anchorage Press: Plan C: A vital resource for women in Dunleavy's Alaska

Grey Areas by C. Grey LaClair

“… In essence, abortion medications induce the natural functions of our own bodies. Before six weeks, the risk of miscarriage is up to 75%. Between six to twelve weeks – the time when most abortions are performed – the risk is up to 20%. Women have been encouraging their bodies to perform this normal process for thousands of years by means of intense exercise, herbs, massage, surgery, yoga twists, and tight girdles. Similarly, prior to modern birth control, women found their own means of contraception, not only herbs and abstinence but also practices like syncing their cycles and then leaving the village together while ovulating, presumably for great adventures.

Elective abortion in humans has happened throughout history, as a natural course of events and the lack of abortions a and general exploitation of our bodies, akin to the earth, is cumulatively the root of the unusual event of population explosion in the 20th century. This, of course, has been a mixed blessing. Indeed, female animals including mice, monkeys, and horses, have also been found to intentionally abort their fetuses at times. Even the authors of the Bible did not feel that abortion was important enough to explicitly mention, nevertheless prohibit, despite it regulating menstruation, childbirth, libido, and rape. This lack of theological foundation evidences the self-serving, malicious, and discriminatory nature of the religious right’s attack on women that should outrage us all.

At some point, if enough women self-manage their abortions and enough people support those who do, the government will not be able to go after us all. We need to stand tall against Dunleavy and his blows at our physical autonomy by letting other women know they have options. As a final note, please do not take this article as a substitute for advice from your medical or legal professional. Be safe and think for yourself!”

Read the full article here.

VICE: Buying Abortion Pills Online Is Overwhelmingly Safe, But Maybe Illegal

“… I was most surprised and excited that every single pill we ended up receiving had at least some of the medication advertised,” Murtagh told VICE. “On the other hand, I was definitely concerned that some of the pills had less medication than expected, and probably more so, how long some of the packages took to arrive. Neither of those would necessarily threaten one’s health, but using ineffective pills and waiting a while for them is just lost time in a time-sensitive situation.”

Based on the research from Murtagh and her team, the reproductive health organization Plan C created a “report card” that grades online abortion pill retailers based on their pricing, shipping time, product quality, and physician oversight. The organization doesn’t make recommendations or advise people on whether they should manage their own abortions but founder Amy Merrill said she believes buying pills online to end a pregnancy is safe and effective if you know for sure that what you’ve bought is the real thing—and Plan C’s report card can help people verify that. 

“I just keep coming back to the data about the safety of the method overall,” Merrill said. “It’s safer than Viagra to use this method of ending a pregnancy, and that includes people taking these pills from a clinic as well as ordering them online.” 

There’s plenty of science and research backing Merrill up. The combo of mifepristone and misoprostol was first approved as an abortifacient in France and China in the late 1980s, and the World Health Organization has recommended it as a method for ending abortions since 2013. Earlier this month, the WHO updated its official guidance on the drugs, getting rid of the stipulation that once stated that using them required “close medical supervision.” Merrill said the guidance only buoys the mounting evidence that using abortion pills is a safe and effective method of ending a pregnancy.”

Read the full article here.

Narcotica: Episode 24: How To Get Abortion Pills Feat. Lynn Paltrow and Francine Coeytaux

“What does abortion access have to do with the war on drugs? EVERYTHING. On this episode, we talk about some of the most controversial drugs of them all, drugs that are often overlooked in the debate about reforming drug policy: abortifacients, drugs that induce miscarriage, ending pregnancies. Specifically, misoprostol and mifepristone. We speak with Lynn Paltrow, the founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women and Francine Coeytaux co-founder of Plan C Pills, co-founder of the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, and a founder of the Pacific Institute for Women’s Health.”

Find out more on the episode and Narotica Podcast

USA TODAY: Some US women are taking reproductive matters into their own hands: They're ordering abortion pills by mail

by Elizabeth Lawrence

… "Medication abortion has an extensive safety record, and the evidence suggests that the restrictions placed on it by the FDA are unwarranted," said Megan Donovan, senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute. "Medical organizations have called for lifting the federal restrictions on medication abortion."

Ingrid Skop, an OB-GYN based in San Antonio and chairman-elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, expressed concerns about women with ectopic pregnancies obtaining abortion pills from providers not meeting the FDA's criteria. 

"The first pill does nothing to end a tubal pregnancy, and tubal pregnancies rupture the tube," Skop said. "A woman who orders it online without the provision of a doctor is going to have no idea if she has an ectopic pregnancy."

Elisa Wells, co-founder and co-director of Plan C, said the reasoning behind restrictions of this method of abortion is political, not medical. 

"This is a very safe procedure that could be helping people," Wells said. "There’s no medical reason for why it can’t be more widely available than it is outside. It's purely political at this point. People need to know that these pills are so safe."

What are the downsides? 

Traffic on Plan C's website has grown significantly in recent years, Wells said.

It's not just the surge of restrictive abortion bills causing women to pursue other options but a steady legislative effort to limit access, she said.

"The more people are restricted, the more likely that they are going to try to manage an abortion on their own," said Gretchen Ely, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo specializing in access to abortion and contraception. "So instead of it being a pre-Roe situation with objects, they’re going to be looking to manage it with medication. More often, it will be unsupervised." 

Read the full article here.