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Can’t access an abortion easily in the U.S.? The Dutch group Women Help Women wants to make sure women have the resources and counseling they need to conduct an abortion at home using prescription abortion pills.
Currently, abortion pills—otherwise known as mifepristone and misoprostol and used up through the 10th week of pregnancy—can only legally be offered by licensed care providers and taken under medical supervision.
However, since there are many states with limited access to abortion clinics, women have been buying the pills illegally online or through other means. So instead of ignoring this loophole, Women Help Women provides a thorough FAQ on using the abortion pills, explaining everything from symptoms to complications to having a safe abortion. The site also has trained counselors that can assist visitors, giving women one-on-one counseling with using the drug, as well as aid for funding an abortion at a local clinic.
What inspired Women Help Women to bring their services over to the United States? The Trump presidency. The organization, which launched the site this week, is afraid that Republican politicians in both state and federal governments will curtail abortion access, leading the group to push towards helping young women have abortions at home.
“Women in the U.S. have been and are using the pills without good guidance,” Women Help Women U.S. spokeswoman Susan Yanow told the Guardian. “If a woman is anxious and has the pills in her hand, and doesn’t know what to do… we can help her understand what to do. We can help her understand what signs to look for, and what’s going on.”
Professor Daniel Grossman, a self-induced abortion researcher, insists that misoprostol and other abortion drugs are “safe” and “effective,” as long as women have the proper information they need.
“In general, I would say there’s kind of a growing recognition that, from a safety or a medical perspective, we have few few concerns about [women using abortion drugs],” Grossman told the Guardian. “Especially if we’re talking about women using misoprostol on their own. It’s a very safe and effective medication. If women have information about how to use it, then women can safely use it on their own.”
However, self-induced abortions are illegal in some parts of the United States. In 2016, one Tennessee woman was charged with three felonies after conducting a coat hanger abortion on herself. Tennessee is known for its strict abortion laws and limited number of abortion clinics, making it one of the toughest states to have an abortion in the country.
Ana Valens is a reporter specializing in online queer communities, marginalized identities, and adult content creation. She is Daily Dot's Trans/Sex columnist. Her work has appeared at Vice, Vox, Truthout, Bitch Media, Kill Screen, Rolling Stone, and the Toast. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and spends her free time developing queer adult games.