Push for Self-Induced Abortion and OTC Availability of RU 486
Friday, April 28, 2017
An international pro-abortion tactic that advises women on how to self-induce abortion in illegal settings is receiving attention and extensive news coverage in the US with the launch of a new ‘counseling helpline’ by the organization Women Help Women (WHW) targeting women in the US. The project— Women Help Women USA: Self-managed Abortion Safe and Supported-SASS- is described by organizers as “the first service to provide one-on-one support from trained counselors to women in the U.S. seeking to end their own pregnancies.”

WHW explains that its action is due to the pro-life positions of President Trump, Congress and states legislators, “The new service comes at a time when Donald Trump has pledged to overturn Roe v. Wade, Congress is held by a majority of anti-abortion legislators, and many states are down to their last abortion provider.”

“WHW has been providing information and support to thousands of women around the world since 2014. We are now expanding this information service to the U.S. because the new Trump administration and anti-abortion legislatures in many states are moving swiftly to push abortion out of reach.

“The online action is based overseas “and offers trained counselors who will respond via email to questions about before, during and after using abortion pills.  They will provide accurate and unbiased information, based on protocols and recommendation by the World Health Organization (a specialized United Nations agency concerned with public health).”

The advice offered includes a focus on misoprostol-only abortion which causes uterine contractions and the expulsion of the living unborn child. Misoprostol, the second drug in the RU 486 regimen, is also used for treatment of gastro-intestinal problems making it easier to obtain in settings where abortion on demand is illegal. WHW states on its website, Misoprostol alone, or in combination with mifepristone, is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy in the first 12 weeks. It is approved by the World Health Organization as a safe abortion method when used by women themselves to 9 weeks and has been used successfully by millions of women* around the world, without a clinician.” (* Women Help Women recognizes that gender-specific terms do not encompass the rights and identities of all people that may seek to end a pregnancy. We believe everyone has the right to feel supported and respected during their abortion experience.)

The abortion drugs promoted by WHW are known to cause severe hemorrhage and have resulted in death. WHW attempts to protect itself by a disclaimer on the website, The contents of this webpage are for informational purposes only. The contents are not a substitute for advice from a medical provider.”

Additionally, the website acknowledges that women are being advised to perform an illegal act “in many states the law requires that abortion pills be given by licensed health care clinicians, and a woman may be arrested for using abortion pills that were not obtained through a clinician.”  The site links to the article How to Plan an Abortion in the Surveillance State on steps to take to hide her internet search on self-induced illegal abortion.

Coinciding with the push for DIY abortion, researchers from Ipas and Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) are pursuing easy access to abortion pills through research entitled, A research agenda for moving early medical pregnancy termination over the counter.

The abortion-agenda researchers propose a path to achieve access to the drugs in the RU 486 regimen, mifepristone and misoprostol, without a prescription. Ipas explains, “The paper, which identifies the evidence needed to determine whether women can safely access non-prescription medical abortion, also suggests that the drugs meet many of the standards of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for over-the-counter sale.”  

It continues, “Medical abortion gives women the option to take pills to have an abortion instead of having a surgical procedure. The process, which allows women to have their abortion at home, involves the use of two medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—to terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks gestation. The safety and efficacy of medication abortion—and women’s ability to use it independently after receiving the drugs and instructions for use—have been proven by previous research.”

“The researchers find that, while additional research is needed, the preliminary evidence is encouraging.”

“Answering the key research questions this study proposes would help women’s health organizations and advocates make the case for access to safe, legal medical abortion outside the health clinic setting,” said Ipas’s Dr. Nathalie Kapp, lead author of the study.

Ipas believes that additional research is needed in three areas to “prove” that women can use abortion-inducing medication without medical supervision: a) testing of a product label that women can understand; b) determining whether women can use the label to assess their use of the drug according to existing medical conditions and stage of pregnancy; and c) testing if women can self-manage the abortion process, including side effects and complications, and knowing when to seek medical care.