Women Help Women, an organization based in the Netherlands, launched a site yesterday for American women seeking information and instructions on how to self-induce abortions at home. The goal is to help desperate women who can't access an abortion provider do it themselves in as safe a way as possible by providing them with information and online counseling.
"There is a lot of fear and worry that, with the current administration and restrictions that are to the enormous disadvantage of girls and women, that access to clinical care might further diminish," said Kinga Jelinska, the executive director of Women Help Women, in an interview with the Washington Post.
It's a valid concern. Last month President Trump signed a bill allowing states and local governments to block federal funding to organizations that offer abortion, like Planned Parenthood. And just today, President Trump named prominent anti-abortion activist, Charmaine Yoest, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.
In the absence of access to qualified providers, women could be tempted to take matters into their own hands or pay for abortions done by uncertified and unfit people—two options that can be incredibly dangerous. Women Help Women aims to "provide access to products and reliable information that empowers women" about their options.
It's worth noting that Women Help Women warns against obtaining abortion pills illegally, stating in bold on their site that "a woman may be arrested for using abortion pills that were not obtained through a clinician." (The two pills used to induce a medical abortion, mifepristone and misoprostol, are only available by prescription in the U.S.)
"I understand that desperate times call for desperate measures and I like the idea of giving women good information about this, but instructing women to perform self-inducing medicated abortions at home is another story," says Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob-gyn and women's health expert. "Before prescribing these, a doctor would do a thorough history, a physical exam, and often perform a pelvic ultrasound to ensure the pregnancy is inside the uterus," she says. "These steps are important to protect pregnant women from unforeseen complications such as infection, hemorrhage, incomplete abortions, and even death." Still, major complications of a medical abortion are rare, affecting just 0.3 percent of the women who have one, according to a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology.