Friday, January 14, 2011

Study: How commonly do US abortion patients report attempts to self-induce?

STUDY DESIGN: A random sample of 107 US abortion providers was asked to distribute questionnaires to abortion patients.

RESULTS: Information was gathered from 9493 patients at 95 facilities, and weights were constructed to make the data nationally representative of all US abortion patients. Only 1.2% of women obtaining abortions report having ever used misoprostol on their own to "bring back" their period or end a pregnancy. A similarly small proportion of women, 1.4%, reported using other substances, such as vitamin C or herbs, to attempt to end a pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: Media reports of self-induced abortions using misoprostol may be exaggerated, but further research is needed to estimate the incidence of self-induced abortion among women who do not access clinical abortion services.

Question: How many of these women suffer debilitating effects from these self-abortions?

There are 1 million abortions a year in the US. If 2.5% of abortions are self-induced, that would amount to about 25 000 women per year.

If self-induced abortion is so lethal, wouldn't at least a handful of these women have died from their attempts? Self-abortion is supposed to be positively deadly. If reduced abortion access puts women's lives in danger, wouldn't there be reports of abortion deaths by now?

My theory is that self-abortions or illegal abortions are not actually as deadly as many activists claim, especially now in the age of the internet where you could find out how to perform one with reasonable accuracy, whether we like it or not. Activists have done such a good job warning women about coathanger abortions that I doubt anyone would attempt one if abortion did become illegal.

The reason why abortions are so deadly in places where there is an abortion has to do with the quality of healthcare. If you live in country where there is a high level of healthcare, and you self-induce your abortion are fairly slim, barring the use of a rusty coathanger perforating your uterus. That's what Ireland and Poland have low rates of maternal mortality in spite of their abortion bans. Most countries with abortion bans are in the Third World. You can't compare their abortion bans with those that would be in place in the Industrialized world. In Third World countries, the medical system often can't deal with simple pregnancies, let alone botched abortions.