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Yet Another Study Shows Women Can Safely Self-Induce Abortion—When Given Proper Information

A new study conducted in Peru, where abortion is legally restricted, finds that women can safely and effectively self-induce abortion after receiving information from a healthcare provider about how to use the drug misoprostol. Although abortion is common in Peru, few women qualify for legal services, and many instead seek out clandestine providers or use unsafe methods on their own.

Researchers at Ibis Reproductive Health, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region documented outcomes with a harm-reduction model of care implemented at non-governmental clinics in Lima and Chimbote. Women who said they were considering ending their pregnancy were evaluated by nurses, given information about ways to use misoprostol that are scientifically shown to be safe and effective for early abortion. They were encouraged to return to the clinic to ensure the abortion was complete, treat any complications and receive contraception. The study followed 220 women who took misoprostol on their own after a clinic evaluation.

“We found that almost 90% of women reported having a complete abortion after taking misoprostol, and very few had medical complications, such as heavy bleeding, infection or severe pain,” Dr. Daniel Grossman, the director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) and lead author of the study, said. “Our findings corroborate those from a growing number of studies indicating that women can safely and effectively use medication abortion on their own with minimal clinical supervision.” 

Grossman shared with Lilith the ways he sees Judaism informing his work for reproductive justice. “I think my Jewish upbringing instilled in me a strong sense of tikkun olam or ‘repair of the world’ and a desire to work for the welfare of society at large,” he said. “My parents aren’t very observant Jews, but they were active volunteers in our temple’s social action work. My research on access to reproductive health care, as well as my clinical activities, are certainly motivated by a desire to reduce disparities and ensure that all people can attain the highest level of health possible.”