SELF-MANAGING YOUR EARLY ABORTION FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME

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We are not providing legal advice or advocating that you should have an abortion. Because we believe that information is power, we are sharing info about self-managed care (the use of medication to cause the non-surgical termination of an early pregnancy up until the 10th week) and links to other organizations that offer counseling, access to the medication and legal information.

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When 90% of counties in the United States lack an abortion provider, there needs to be an alternative for those in need.

Plan C is an organization hard at work normalizing and de-stigmatizing the self-use of abortion pills. They educate the public about how people are safely and effectively managing their own abortions using pills, research new routes of access to pills in the United States and mobilize a grassroots network of activists to catalyze action for putting the pills directly in the hands of those who need them most.

One of their newest partners is Aid Access. This new international service provides medically-supported online access to abortion pills for those who choose to self-manage their early abortions. And, as Plan C shares, Aid Access offers the following incredible services:

  • online medical screening, including a calculator to help users correctly determine pregnancy gestation

  • prescribes mifepristone and misoprostol pills, the same medications available through clinic-based services

  • provides users with accurate information about how to use the pills and expected side effects, as well as advice about when additional care may be needed

  • provides support via email throughout the abortion process (or phone, if requested)

  • ensures the delivery of products known to be of good quality, with about half of the orders arriving at US addresses within 10 days (and the remainder arriving in 11-18 days).

It costs about $95, but there is a sliding scale available.

We chatted with Amy Merrill of Plan C to get some more of Qs answered:

HOW’S IT WORK?

The safest, most effective type of medical abortion requires the use of two different pills...Mifepristone and Misoprostol...which provoke the spontaneous expulsion of the pregnancy from the uterus...Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone which is required to sustain a pregnancy. Without this hormone, the attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall is disrupted, and the uterus contracts. Misoprostol enhances contractions and helps to expel the products of conception from the uterus.
Mifepristone with Misoprostol are proven to be highly effective, safe and acceptable for early first trimester abortions.. Research indicates that it is safe to perform the medical abortion procedure at home as long as you live near a hospital or other emergency service.

WHY IS IT THAT SO FEW OF US KNOW THAT IT IS EVEN POSSIBLE TO ORDER PILLS ONLINE OR TO SELF-MANAGE AN ABORTION?

While people have managed their own abortion care for centuries, most of the options currently available in the United States are restricted and medicalized. Yet, many of the restrictions imposed on abortion access are the result of politics, not because they are medically necessary. When the method of using abortion pills came to the US nearly 2 decades ago it, too, was overly medicalized and regulations were applied that were not necessary for good standards of care--in fact, the same regulations were applied to the pills as surgical abortion, an entirely different process! But, in recent years, generic versions of the same abortion pills used in clinics have become more readily available in the US, making it possible for individuals to safely self-manage an abortion. News of this self-managed option is gradually spreading.

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO CONFIRM THAT WE ARE UNDER 10 WEEKS FOR THIS TO BE EFFECTIVE? CAN YOU STILL TRY IT IF WE ARE MORE THAN 10 WEEKS PREGNANT?

Data has shown that women are exceptionally accurate when predicting how far along they are in a pregnancy. It comes down to calculating from the first day of your last period (Aid Access has an online calculator) and noting your symptoms. People who have irregular periods may decide to have a pelvic exam or ultrasound to get a more exact estimate of how far along they are. Best practices recommend an in-clinic or surgical abortion for pregnancies of more than 10 weeks. 

DO WE NEED A DOCTOR TO CONFIRM THE ABORTION WAS SUCCESSFUL?

Abortion pills are about 98% effective in ending an early pregnancy. After taking abortion pills, many people are able to tell from their symptoms that they are no longer pregnant. It's normal for bleeding and clotting to continue for 1-3 weeks (or even longer) after taking the pills, but you can have an ultrasound if you want to confirm, or after 3 weeks you can take another home pregnancy test (if you take it too soon after the abortion you may get a false positive since it takes time for the pregnancy hormones to clear). 

ANYTHING WE SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR AT HOME THAT INDICATES THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG OR THAT WE NEED TO SEEK MEDICAL CARE ONCE WE TAKE THE PILLS?

If you have extreme pain, prolonged heavy bleeding (that lasts for more than 2 hours and soaks more than 2 maxi sanitary pads per hour), abnormal vaginal discharge or fever, it might be a sign that you have a complication and should go to a doctor. The follow up treatment is the same as for a miscarriage. 

For links to additional online resources and info, GO HERE!

ANY FAVORITE TIPS FOR SUPPORT PRE AND POST PILLS?

Many people choose to have a friend or family member as support during their process. You may also want to have a heating pad and over the counter pain medications available (like ibuprofen), comfortable clothes and plenty of sanitary pads available. Also, it's best to wait 4-7 days after taking the pills to have sex, because the cervix might be slightly open and prone to infection. 

Thanks, Amy!

Note from C+S: Just because this can be done at home, doesn't mean you don't need support or need to understand the full extent of what you are putting in your body. Ensure you understand your full medical history and how it may or may not interact with the pills. Do your full research. And be sure to learn about potential legal ramifications. Aid Access can help with this all. Plus, DIY Doula has an awesome abortion self-care guide available online. Again, we ARE NOT advocating for you to have an abortion! We are simply educating you on your options so that you have tools to make the best choice for your unique body and situation.