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

The study also looked at the effect of telephone follow-up after a woman takes misoprostol. After it was added, 80% of patients received some type of follow-up with the clinic, compared with 30% returning for an in-person visit before the telephone option was introduced.

“Telephone follow-up gives women another way to get support from the clinic and help them figure out if the abortion is complete or not,” Sarah Baum, an associate with Ibis Reproductive Health and co-author of the study, said. “It also may help them start using contraception after the abortion, since we saw that women with any type of follow-up contact with the clinic were more likely to be using birth control after the abortion compared to those without follow-up.” 

The harm-reduction approach to legally restricted abortion was first developed in Uruguay, where it was associated with a sharp decline in abortion-related mortality. The model is similar to the harm-reduction approach to injection drug use, which led to the development of needle-exchange programs and other efforts to make injection drug use safer. 

“Harm-reduction programs for safe abortion have been introduced in several countries in Latin America to great success, and in Uruguay, helped pave the way for the legalization of abortion,” said Jennifer Friedman, Associate Director of Programs for the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western Hemisphere Region. “While not a substitute for laws that uphold women’s right to safe and legal abortion, harm-reduction programs help mitigate unnecessary suffering and death in a region with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.” 

“As abortion becomes more restricted in the United States, I believe there is something we physicians can learn from the harm-reduction model in Latin America,” said Grossman. “If abortion became illegal or impossible to access in some states, would we stand up and give our patients information about how to end a pregnancy on their own using medications they could obtain online? Would we be as brave as these clinicians in Peru and Uruguay? The trend of increasing abortion restrictions across the country brings this scenario closer to reality.” 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Lilith Magazine.