Have you heard about the new trend of at-home and self-managed abortions? Probably not. It certainly isn't something most people would think about, let alone consider, but for many young women nationwide it is becoming an option that seems very attractive.
First of all, please understand that this is not the same thing as the Morning After Pill, Plan B, Emergency Contraception, etc. If you want more information on how those work, check out Option Line's website. Emergency contraception has it's own issues, but it is much less dangerous than an at-home abortion.
So, if that isn't it . What is an at-home abortion?
Simply put, an at-home abortion is any abortion performed at home and without medical supervision. It could be a manual abortion, like the coat hangers of old. It could be a "natural" abortion induced with herbs or other plants. Recently it has come to mean, in most cases, ordering abortion pills (brand name: RU486) over the internet and taking them at home without the benefit of a medical exam, confirmation of pregnancy, or medical oversight.
If the colloquially known "abortion pills" aren't the same as Plan B, what are they? Check out the video below for more information.
Typically, the first of the abortion pills (mifepristone) is ingested at the abortion clinic. In an at-home abortion the mother will receive these pills in the mail and take them at home. This first pill blocks the hormone progesterone, and deprives the unborn child of nutrients.
At this stage of the procedure, it is possible to reverse the effects of the pill. Mothers can contact the Abortion Pill Rescue Network for help. It is vital that they do this as quickly as possibly to maximize their chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
Then, 24-28 hours later, the mother ingests the second pill, misoprostal (brand name, Cytotec). This pill causes the cramps and contractions that will help the mother deliver her baby, whether or not the baby has already died. It is important to note that not all online providers of the abortion pill provide this second medication, which means the mother could end up with an infection or other complications. It is also important to note that the mother may very well see her child, dead or alive, after delivery.
After the abortion is complete, assuming there are no problems, the mother could experience several side effects. These range from just very uncomfortable to incredibly painful. However, remember that these women are attempting an abortion without medical help. Beyond the expected side effects, a mother alone could end up with an infection, an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, a uterine rupture, or an allergic reaction to something in the pills. In a worst case scenario, these pills could cause a woman's death.
Does this sound terrible yet? Wait, there's more!
This isn't just pro-life people trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. The FDA has issued a black box warning, their strongest warning, against taking these pills at home. They state very clearly that by taking these at home women will bypass safeguards meant to protect them. The FDA isn't worried about the unborn baby, they're worried about what could happen to the mother.
Beyond everything that we just covered, there is the issue of honesty. Are these online providers really interested in the health of women? No, they're not. They're interested in making money. So, what is really in those pills? Is the medication what the mother expects? Will it have additives or fillers that could harm her?
There is no way to know.
What is the big deal? After all, according to many sources the abortion pill is safe and not much worse than getting your period. If that's all there is to it, why can't women take it at home?
One article, from Cosmopolitan, first assures young women that taking the abortion pill is "safe and effective." Then, the article goes on to say that a woman may pass blood clots the "size of a lemon."
I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty unsafe to me.
Then, the same article tells readers that the cramping may be "intense." What does that mean, exactly? Well, the average patient gave their pain as higher than a six on a scale of six to eleven, with 20% listing their pain as a ten. Those numbers were given by women with medical support, it would be interesting to see how those numbers would change if the woman in question is trying to keep her pain and bleeding a secret. I don't know about you, but when I am alone at my house pain always seems worse than if I am in a hospital or at my doctor's office. The fear of the unknown, the fear that something terrible could happen, the idea that my body is breaking is infinitely worse when I don't have anyone to rely on. If a young woman is alone I would think that her assessment of her pain would be much worse than one who is with someone she can trust.
Now that we have covered some of the side effects and risks, what about the application? Who is going to take these pills?
Some of them will certainly be women who just want some privacy. Or, maybe they're far enough from an abortion clinic that they would rather do it at home instead of making the trip. Perhaps they're confident in their decision, comfortable with the risks, and have plenty of support in the home.
Or, perhaps they're young and terrified that they might be pregnant. They may not know for sure, but if the pills are safe then what's the harm? Maybe they're being sold for sex, and their pimp doesn't want anyone in his "stable" being pregnant, so he administers the drugs on a regular basis. Perhaps the young woman doesn't want an abortion at all, so her parents or her boyfriend force her to take the pills and lock her up until it's over.
Who's to know? Nobody is. These websites have no interest in or ability to screen willing participants from unwilling ones. They are willing to ship the pills in bulk to whoever has the money to pay for them. These pills are readily available to anyone with enough cash to cover them, and that should worry all of us.
Let's assume for a moment that a woman takes these pills and starts to have trouble. Maybe it's normal side effects but she is frightened. Perhaps she is having serious side effects and knows something is terribly wrong. What does she do then? Assuming she has access to medical help, she may not be able to tell the doctor what she took. After all, what if the box is dishonest? Further, some of the websites offering these pills advise women to lie to their doctors. They tell them that an at-home abortion is the same as a miscarriage, and doctors don't need to know.
How can doctors treat women effectively without knowing what they took or how it affects them? They can't. They could even end up doing more harm than good.
Finally, what about the baby? In every successful abortion there is a dead child (or more than one if a mom is carrying multiples). Even if everything goes according to plan the end result is a mother of a dead baby.
Regardless of your view on abortion, this should trouble you. These pills aren't safe. Women should not be told that taking them at home and without medical oversight is "no big deal." They need to know what they may be getting into and they need referrals to places that can truly help them.
To fill this gap, we have put together a website called athomeabortionfacts.com. This is the only pro-life resource out there letting women know about the danger and risks while directing them to life-affirming resources.
Can you help? Share this blog. Share the link to the athomeabortionfacts.com website. Send it to your local pregnancy center, your church, your youth group, and any teens or young adults in your life. The pro-abortion movement is strong, but we are stronger. We need to fight back.
Athomeabortionfacts.com was produced by a team put together by Sarah M. Bowen. The website, at this point, has been done with 100% volunteer labor and at almost no cost to Alpha Omega Center. If you would like to be part of this initiative with a financial gift please visit aocpartners.org/donate. Every dollar makes a tremendous difference.