The long and winding history of the war on abortion drugs

Along with the stethoscope and camembert cheese, mifepristone may be one of France’s greatest inventions. It’s one of two drugs taken for medical abortions, along with misoprostol, and has been making headlines in the US, where a Texas judge issued a ruling to ban it nationwide. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the history of these two drugs.


Two separate rulings filed one after another in quick succession on April 7 had US abortion providers holding their breath. The first, issued by Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, ordered a hold on mifepristone, one of two drugs taken for medical abortions. The second, issued by Obama-appointed federal judge Thomas O. Rice, came less than an hour later. His ruling ordered the exact opposite.


Reclaiming Safe Abortion Access in Haiti

Haitian feminists are battling centuries of patriarchal norms in their fight for abortion rights using creative means including underground networks, political activism, and art.

MAR 30, 2023

Don’t move. Those were the only words from the doctor who performed Samora Chalmers’ first abortion 15 years ago in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, during her 30-minute appointment.

Chalmers can’t tell you the details of the procedure she underwent. The doctor never told her. All she remembers is being alone with a stranger and feeling terrible pain, which anesthesia did little to numb. Three days later, she had lost so much blood that she had to see another doctor—but couldn’t tell him why because of Haiti’s strict anti-abortion laws.


The web is home to an illegal bazaar for abortion pills. The FDA is ill-equipped to stop it.

Experts say the sites pose a public health threat that is likely to grow.

Aug 1, 2022

Enter “buy cytotec online cheap” into Google’s search engine and the first four results are sites that illegally offer to ship the abortion pills without a prescription.

Despite the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that gave states the right to ban the procedure, it’s still possible to get abortion medication, even in states where it’s restricted, through telemedicine or by traveling across state lines. But the patchwork of state rules is nonetheless fertile ground for scammers looking to make money off desperate abortion patients who don’t know how to navigate them.


Inside Brazil’s Abortion Pill Black Market

In a country where one woman dies every two days from a botched abortion, the internet is sometimes the only option.

By Leonardo Coelho, a Brazilian journalist based in Rio de Janeiro.
JULY 8, 2022

Under a run-of-the-mill news clip posted on YouTube in 2012 covering Brazil’s online black market of abortion pills, something strange has happened in the comments section. Even though the video is a decade old, the comments—now totaling more than 68,000—continue to pile up every day.

Nearly all the new comments appear to be from female users with phone numbers in their usernames. Although it’s not entirely clear who these users are, they seem to be promoting mysterious individuals with names like Alice and Maísa who can provide “Cyto.”


Underground Activists in Brazil Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights

While abortion has long been aggressively criminalized in Brazil, in the past few years, anti-abortion zeal has reached a fever pitch. In response, abortion activist networks support and guide women through at-home procedures.

October 23, 2021
Alejandra Marks 

Last month, when Taís Oliveira* found out she was pregnant, she got in her car and cried. A single mother living in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Taís had promised herself she would never raise a child alone again. The next day she began her search for an abortion. Under President Jair Bolsonaro’s radically anti-choice government, however, obtaining one through either legal or illegal means would be difficult. With scores of religious conservatives in Congress and at the helm of the public agencies, anti-abortion surveillance pervades.


German women’s health groups decry blow to abortion access

In a letter to the German health minister, a group of organizations warned that the care of women in emergency situations is ‘at risk’.

April 19, 2021

German Health Minister Jens Spahn has declined to comment on a call by women’s health groups for him to help ensure access to a drug used in medication-induced abortions, following a halt on parallel imports of the medicine. 

Women wanting such abortions in Germany face few options after the country’s drug regulator suggested that parallel importers stop bringing in Cytotec, which has the active ingredient misoprostol. Along with being used off label to induce abortion, it's prescribed for procedures such as miscarriages and before certain gynecological surgeries.


South Africa – Abortion is a regular medical procedure, so why do we need a law for it?

With abortion services becoming available through telemedicine and self-managed abortions increasingly gaining traction globally, the relevance and legality of abortion law should be questioned as women demand reproductive justice, and feminists get organising.

By Marion Stevens
14 August 2020

Abortion has always been legal in South Africa, a fact which may surprise many people. The colonial government introduced Roman-Dutch law, which allowed abortions to take place under certain conditions.

The Abortion and Sterilisation Act 2 of 1975 reserved access to abortion for white women, while increasing control over black women’s bodies – all within a population control framework. Under this act, approximately 1,000 white women accessed abortion every year, while the number of black women seeking abortions was not even recorded.


Brazil – Covid-19 and the wounded uterus

There would be no death, bleeding or suffering if abortion were recognized for what it is: a medical necessity

Debora Diniz and Giselle Carino
01 jul 2020

The news report described her as an anonymous 31-year-old woman. The subheading read: “Case happened in Bom Jesus do Norte” – or Good Jesus of the North. From what we know, she was the first woman to die from a clandestine abortion in Brazil during the coronavirus pandemic. The nameless woman “was two months pregnant,” according to her husband. Twice she sought help in spaces of death, at unsafe abortion houses. She tried a hose, potassium permanganate, syringes. She died of cardiac arrest. Why did she persist? We do not know, nor do her innermost reasons matter. It is enough to know that she was a woman determined not to be forced into maternity during the pandemic.

The pandemic killed her. Cause and effect can be debated in this narrative, that is true. Her death was not from Covid-19, but from the policies that rule women’s bodies as if they were material to be controlled by criminal law.


Zimbabwe – Inside Harare’s ghastly abortion ‘clinics’ …60 000 illegal terminations a year

Inside Harare’s ghastly abortion ‘clinics’ …60 000 illegal terminations a year

26 January 2020
Emmanuel Kafe, Investigations Reporter

Syndicates operating illegal backyard abortion “clinics” are using knitting needles, spoons, dishwashing liquid, dangerous pills and assorted concoctions to terminate pregnancies of young, vulnerable and scared women.

An abortion is the medical process of ending a pregnancy so that it does not result in the birth of a baby. Some of these terminations fail, thereby posing serious health risks to those that attempt to abort.


Five busted in Klaten for allegedly running online abortion clinic

Five busted in Klaten for allegedly running online abortion clinic

Ganug Nugroho Adi
The Jakarta Post
Thu, March 14, 2019

The Klaten Police arrested five people last Friday for allegedly running an online abortion clinic in Ceper, Klaten, Central Java.

The suspects were identified as Agung Nugroho and his wife, Anisa Puspitasari, as well as Ariyanti, a local midwife. Agung and Anis allegedly offered abortion services on a LINE messaging app under the handle Nindira. The police also arrested Dian Arisa and Yoga Janu, a couple who allegedly used the clinic’s service.