OPINION: Ensure access to high-quality abortion care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic
by Kelly Blanchard & Thoai D. Ngo
Thursday, 2 April 2020
The global response to the spread of COVID-19 has changed life dramatically. Evolving restrictions on travel and physical distancing mean that access to contraception and abortion services will become even more difficult for people facing challenges accessing reproductive health care. This pandemic will leave a permanent impact on the health sector—but it presents an opportunity to adopt evidence-based strategies to expand access to information about and access to self-managed medication abortion at home.
Two new evidence reviews show that women can manage abortions with safe and effective medicines during early pregnancy. Self-managed abortion (SMA) is an important option for people seeking abortion care—especially now, as our health systems face severe resource constraints.
“Stay Home and Have the Baby”
Texas and Ohio have ordered a stop to abortions, saying they’re not essential medical services. Other states will follow. Right-wing forces are using the pandemic as a pretext to crack down dramatically on abortion rights. We can’t let them.
By Jenny Brown
Texas and Ohio have ordered a stop to abortions, saying they’re not essential medical services, while state officials in Mississippi and Maryland are edging that direction. Their coronavirus prevention program is “Stay home and have the baby.”
The states argued that equipment such as masks used for surgical abortions could be used for care of COVID-19 patients. And they claim if anything goes wrong emergency services would be needed, exaggerating the risk of a safe procedure.
Self-managed abortions should be universally available
March 24, 2020
Sam Rowlands, Visiting Professor, Health and Social Science, Bournemouth University
A combination of feminist advocacy, new drugs and the internet is allowing people to safely end early pregnancies themselves when they choose to do so. People can manage abortions using medicines without face-to-face contact with doctors and nurses.
A service at a distance, supervised by a doctor, was first offered by Women on Web in 2005 for countries with no lawful access to medical abortion. Women Help Women offers similar help to women anywhere in the world. And in the US, Aid Access – a fairly new organisation – offers email support. (In the US, online help is increasingly used because access to abortion clinics has been reduced in the last few years.)
Abortion activists in Poland fret as coronavirus curbs access
Alicja Ptak, Reuters
March 21, 2020
WARSAW — Natalia Broniarczyk, an activist with a charity that assists Polish women who want to terminate pregnancies, says its hot line began ringing non-stop after the government announced border closures to stem the coronavirus outbreak last week.
Many callers were worried about their shipments of abortion pills, which are illegal in Poland, and others feared they would not be able to reach clinics abroad in time to have the procedure, which is unavailable in Poland in most cases.
What to Know About Giving Yourself an Abortion
Ending a pregnancy on your own means using pills—not coat hangers.
by Marie Solis
Feb 17 2020
Abortions happened before it was legal to get one, and, should it ever become illegal again, they will happen then too—many of them outside of clinics, without direct medical supervision.
But doing your own abortion in 2020 looks a lot different than it did pre- Roe v. Wade. People who self-induced abortions in the decades before the landmark Supreme Court ruling sometimes resorted to drinking toxic chemicals, throwing themselves down the stairs, or using crude instruments like knitting needles or a coat hanger, the latter of which has become a universal symbol of the life-threatening consequences of restricting people’s access to abortion care. The hanger may still function as a powerful image, but it’s no longer accurate when it comes to representing what it means to self-induce an abortion: Self-inducing or self-managing an abortion is now synonymous with taking pills, a safe and effective method of ending a pregnancy.
Need an Abortion? There’s an App for That
by Steph Herold
Published on January 22, 2020
If you needed accurate, evidence-based information about abortion, would you know how or where to find it? Most people have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction when it comes to abortion, and you really can’t blame them: Anti-abortion misinformation is everywhere, from fake pregnancy centers to racist, shaming billboards to your state legislature. And now there’s an even more intimate way to access abortion information that can be truthful and reliable or wildly misleading—an app on your smartphone.
How to Give Yourself an Abortion
January 9, 2020
Posted by Arielle Swernoff
Illustrated by Matt Lubchansky
For as long as people have gotten pregnant, people have given themselves abortions. Historically, these methods have varied from the brutal to the toxic to the bizarre.
But history hasn’t always gotten it wrong. From the Bronze Age until the 1st or 2nd century BCE, silphium, a plant native to Libya, was used as a safe and effective contraceptive and abortifacient. It’s said the plant was so popular that it was harvested to extinction. More recently, enslaved black people in the American South devised numerous herbal treatments to terminate unwanted pregnancies, some of which are still used today.
Pro-choice activists launch abortion initiative in Poland
Abortion Without Borders to offer women advice and funds to seek treatment abroad
Shaun Walker, Central and eastern Europe correspondent
Tue 10 Dec 2019
An international group of pro-choice campaigners will launch an initiative in Poland this week to provide advice and funding for women to travel abroad to have abortions.
Poland has some of Europe’s most restrictive abortion laws, and proposals backed by the rightwing government to introduce a total ban on abortions in 2016 were scrapped only after large-scale protests.
How to Make Abortion Great Again
Poland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the European Union, and in practice, it's all but banned. But four women, nicknamed the "Abortion Dream Team," are pushing back, holding workshops around the country teaching women how to obtain and self-manage a medical abortion. With Roe v. Wade at risk of being overturned in the U.S., is their story a cautionary tale, or a possible roadmap for American women?
By Anna Louie Sussman
Nov 4, 2019
On a rainy day in May, in the Polish coastal city of Gdańsk, in a high-ceilinged room on the second floor of an unremarkable building, 16 women and five men sat in mismatched office chairs around a long table, waiting to learn how to administer a medical abortion. Before the workshop began in earnest, one of the speakers, Karolina Więckiewicz, turned to a bald, bearded man on her left, whose papers spread out in front of him suggested he might be from a prosecutor’s office, and asked him to stop recording.
With Abortion Restrictions On The Rise, Some Women Induce Their Own
September 19, 2019
When Arlen found out she was pregnant this year, she was still finishing college and knew she didn't want a child.
There's a clinic near her home, but Arlen faced other obstacles to getting an abortion.
"I started researching about prices, and I was like, 'Well, I don't have $500,' " said Arlen, who is in her 20s and lives in El Paso, Texas. We're not using her full name to protect her privacy.