Category Archives: Abortion Access
Abortion pills sold online are not typically fake, and are as safe as those women receive with a valid medical prescription, according to a study published in the journal Contraception. Some women who cannot afford to go to the doctor, who cannot access abortion, or who are afraid to tell anyone they are pregnant turn to online pills. It’s a fact that points to the desperation of women seeking abortion. Yet this study suggests desperate women may have one less thing to fear.
Online Abortion Pill Safety: Abortion Pills Purchased Online May Be Safe, Effective
For the study, researchers purchased abortion pills from 20 different websites. None of the sites required a prescription. The abortion pill is only legally available with a valid medical prescription. The team then had the pills tested by an independent laboratory. All of the mifepristone pills were within 8% of the advertised level. There was more variation in the misoprostol pills, but the pills were still potent enough to cause an abortion.
Because the pills were advertised, they were likely to be reasonably safe–at least for women who are eligible to use abortion pills. These pills are only FDA-approved for abortions up to 10 weeks. Women may need medical assistance following a medication abortion, however, and not all women can safely use a medication for abortion.
Abortion Without Instruction or Support
Though the pills were as advertised, none of them came with instructions for proper use. This leaves women seeking abortions to look for instructions elsewhere. Online abortion instructions aren’t always reliable. Some searches for abortion assistance may redirect to anti-choice websites filled with inaccurate information and scare tactics. The wrong dose of an otherwise safe pill can be dangerous. Likewise, women with certain medical conditions or very advanced pregnancies cannot safely use an abortion pill. Women who are desperate enough to illegally seek online abortion pills may be desperate enough to use those pills without researching their use. In some cases, women who know their pregnancy has progressed too far may opt for a medication abortion out of desperation.
While instructions on the proper use of the pill won’t prevent all improper uses, they can act as a barrier to dangerous use.
Telemedicine: A Potentially Viable Alternative
The fact that women are turning to illegal online abortions speaks to a larger problem. Abortion remains inaccessible or too expensive for many women. State regulations, scare tactics, and the fear of clinic protesters can all cause women to choose less safe options. The good news is that there may be a safe alternative to illegal medication abortions.
One recent study found that telemedicine abortions–which involve a medication abortion with the option of assistance from a medical provider–are safe. That didn’t stop anti-choicers from telling women otherwise. It’s just one more way of limiting women’s reproductive freedom–which is a strategy that’s repeatedly proven to endanger the lives of women and their children.
Data released last month by the Guttmacher Institute shows that the abortion rate dropped under President Obama. This is the first time in more than two decades that the abortion rate has decreased among every demographic group. The data also shows that abortion is a common experience for women, with about 1 in 4 women having at least one abortion before the age of 45. Read the rest of this entry »
Sentiliano Canko, 32, was charged this week with a bomb threat directed to a New Jersey abortion clinic. Last week, anti-choice protesters stormed the waiting rooms of at least two abortion clinics. An attorney general and president determined not to enforce the law have birthed a new generation of anti-choice terrorism. While the far right uses terrorism as a guise for undermining civil liberties, they ignore one of the most common forms of terrorism: anti-choice terrorism. Here’s what you need to know.
So-called crisis pregnancy centers peddle in disinformation. They capitalize on the fear and vulnerability of women considering abortion, and pressure them into a decision with life-altering consequences. Anti-choicers argue that these crisis pregnancy centers offer a viable alternative to abortion. Yet research consistently shows that they offer false, and even potentially harmful information. Women visiting these centers learn that birth control doesn’t work, that abortion dooms them to Hell, and that having sex outside of marriage renders them damaged goods. These centers are little more than sources of anti-woman propaganda.
The problem is that fake abortion clinics shamelessly lie. They present themselves as abortion providers, or as a place to get a free pregnancy test. Vulnerable women visit them, are subjected to abuse, and waste valuable time. Here’s what every choice activist needs to know about these dangerous facilities.
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In July, the Pew Research center released new data about public opinion on abortion. So what do people believe about abortion? Though a vocal minority is aggressively anti-choice, most people support abortion access. And almost all people support abortion to save the life of the woman. Overall, public support for abortion is the highest it has been in the last two decades.
If the anti-choice argument were as strong as its proponents like to think, it would be supported by sound science. It’s not. Anti-abortion zealots traffic in lies and half-truths. For women already conflicted over abortion, those lies can be the source of guilt, self-loathing, and fear. Researchers have crafted well-designed studies about the effects of abortion for decades. The inevitable conclusion? Anti-choicers are wrong about almost everything. Here are six pieces of abortion science anti-choicers don’t want you to know.
Spend enough time outside your local abortion clinic, and you’ll see them: protesters, most of them men, holding signs of supposedly aborted fetuses. They plead with women to not abort their “babies.” They offer the laughable support of baby clothes, but never offer real financial assistance or express a willingness to adopt unwanted babies. They yell at women who go through with the procedure. They ditch women who back out, consistently opposing governmental policies that might offer real support to women with unwanted pregnancies.
Researchers have documented the right’s lies about abortion over and over. One of the most pernicious is the lie of post-abortion trauma. Women who seek abortions are not traumatized en masse. And when they do feel trauma, it’s often due to the tactics the right employs to “protect” women seeking abortions. Anti-choicers have created teh very trauma they decry. It’s just one more indication that their opposition to abortion has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting women.
It’s no accident that the right uses graphic images of allegedly aborted fetuses. The goal is to shame women considering abortions and guilt those who have already had them. It’s a tactic that works. Women struggling with depression and guilt may believe these images represent the fetuses they aborted. In most cases, the images are of babies much larger than those that could be legally aborted, contributing to the myth that abortion kills large, living, feeling beings.
Creating Shame and Grief
The most common emotion women report feeling after an abortion is relief. Ninety percent of women express sentiments of relief in the week following a pregnancy termination. But research suggests that state abortion laws requiring waiting periods and pre-abortion counseling increase shame. This reduces women’s feelings of relief, and can cause them to feel guilty following an abortion. This is a deliberate attempt by the right to punish women for undergoing abortions. This guilt and shame is totally unnecessary. It’s not a natural result of abortion. It’s a byproduct of the culture wars.
The Abortion Salvation Narrative
Spend enough time at a far right church, and you’ll eventually hear the same tired abortion narrative: a “troubled” woman (she’s always troubled; normal women don’t have abortions) sough an abortion. She was ravaged by grief and guilt for years. Then finally, she found Jesus. He saved and forgave her, and the congregation embraced her. Good for her. Women deserve to embrace whatever narratives about their own lives that they wish.
The trouble with this particular narrative is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A stigma against talking about abortion means that women rarely hear positive abortion stories. They only hear the tragic tales anti-choice zealots weave. So they think it’s natural to grieve and feel bad. Those who don’t may think there’s something wrong with them. And those who do feel mixed or negative emotions may think it’s because there was something wrong with the choice they made.
Abortion Trauma: Is it Real?
Studies have repeatedly debunked the notion of post-abortion syndrome. But women can and do experience trauma related to their abortions. Some women seek abortions under duress. Others have abortions because, under policies supported by anti-choice Republicans, they can’t afford to have babies. And yes, some women grow to regret their abortions.
Does this mean abortion should be illegal, or that it’s inherently traumatic? Of course not. Some women regret becoming mothers. As many as 20% develop depression after having a child. Yet anti-choicers don’t argue that pregnancy should be banned.
The trauma some women experience after abortion is a direct result of the cultural milieu in which abortion exists. Pro-choicers do little to actually support women, arguing that abortion is a tragic decision that should be rare. Anti-choicers are there to fill in the gaps. They tell women to grieve for their “babies” for the rest of their lives. They instruct them that they must redeem themselves for their sinful decisions. They tell tales of women ravaged by the pain of abortion. And they never mention the flip side: that women denied abortions have worse outcomes, and that pregnancy has always been more dangerous for women than abortion.
Last Saturday, more than 600 protesters gathered outside a Charlotte, North Carolina, abortion clinic to shame women seeking abortions. Many urged that “abortion is a men’s issue, too.” Justin Reeder, founder of Men for Life, recently remarked, “The truth is, this is more a man’s issue than a woman’s issue…We forget about the men so often in this story.” Apparently what happens inside of women’s bodies actually matters more to men than women. But far-right abortion protesters are right about one thing: abortion affects men, too. Yet women disproportionately bear the shame, costs, and risks of abortion. Abortion benefits men–even when they won’t admit it.
How Abortion Benefits Men
When women don’t have abortions, they have children. Those children need at least 18 years of food, clothing, parenting, education, and myriad other costly forms of support. Single fathers are more likely than mothers to neglect these responsibilities. But they still have to pay child support, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars over the course of childhood. Abortion prevents men from paying for children they don’t want or never see. It protects them from a lifelong relationship with a partner they don’t want to be with. It ensures that both men and women can pursue educational and career goals. And, in the case of very conservative men from very conservative families, it may protect men from the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy.
These aren’t trivial benefits. Men who can’t afford child support can find themselves in bankruptcy. Teen fathers are more likely to drop out of college and high school. Ongoing conflict with a mother the father no longer has a relationship with is a source of chronic stress. And of course, the ability to have sex without fear of being forced to raise a child to adulthood is a significant benefit that frees men to think about more pleasant topics.
Why Men Don’t Get a Say
So if abortion benefits men, too, why don’t they get a say? Men’s inability to stop a partner’s abortion has been a rallying cry of the far-right for decades. The obvious answer, of course, is that the fetus is in the woman’s body. Most anti-abortion activists are undaunted by this. So here’s another issue: the odds of a man actually serving as the primary caregiver for a child he forces a woman to bear are vanishingly slim.
Dozens of studies have documented that men continue not to do their fair share of childrearing. Some studies even show that men see equal division of childrearing as a form of inequality. When couples don’t live together, the discrepancy grows even larger. Following a divorce, a third of men drop out of their children’s lives altogether.
It’s a fantasy to believe that a majority of men who want to stop their partners from having abortions actually want to raise the child. Instead, the mother will be stuck parenting a child she didn’t want–or worse, the child will end up in foster care. It’s just one more way the anti-choice movement has proven to be an anti-family movement.
Women Still Bear the Cost of Most Abortions
Researchers have paid little attention to the role men play in abortion. A small 1999 study found that only slightly more than 1% of men whose partners had abortions wanted their partner to complete the pregnancy. This suggests that men know they benefit from abortion. But what support do men offer? Not much. In an even smaller study, only half of men whose partners sought abortions even bothered to accompany their partners to the abortion clinic.
Women are still significantly more likely than men to pay for abortion, even though men earn more money than women. Women also bear all of the risk of abortion, and most of the stigma. Abortion clinic protesters, after all, don’t call men whores or sinners. They’re more likely to insist upon a man’s right to control his partner. Male abortion protesters are protesting abortion, not going to the local foster care office and petitioning to adopt unwanted children.
It’s a sign of the privilege that infects virtually every aspect of relationships between men and women. Men benefit from someone women do, while denying that benefit and demanding even more of women. The male anti-abortion movement is male fragility at its worst.