Advocates weigh how to guide those who get abortion pills : Vaccines

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Advocates weigh how to guide those who get abortion pills : Vaccines scotus overturn roe protest downtown rachel iacovone 0189 wide 49abaadb6bb0590af9b9d5f41d01e018d17bfeb9 s1100 c50

Julie Edwards, a patient advocacy program manager for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, had a self-managed abortion as a teenager and said they will become more common and may be safe.

Rachel Lacovone/WPLN


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Julie Edwards, a patient advocacy program manager for Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, had a self-managed abortion as a teenager and said they will become more common and may be safe.

Rachel Lacovone/WPLN

At a rally in Nashville, Planned Parenthood organizer Julie Edwards looked at some of the images of “street abortion” on signs, including bloody hangers. But, Edwards told the crowd, driven into the streets by the US Supreme Court’s ruling on abortion rights, it’s not like old times. Roe vs. Wade.

Nearly a decade ago, Edwards was a teenager and some older friends gave him medication. Edwards said that may be the new normal in states that ban abortions like Tennessee.

“I’m standing in front of you after having a self-managed abortion, getting abortion pills from people in my community. And I’m safe,” Edwards said to applause. “It’s going to take all of us keeping each other’s secrets, holding hands, keeping each other safe.”

Medications are now available for first-trimester abortions. And it has become the primary form abortions are induced.

The regimen includes two prescription drugs that hit the market since Roe it was decided in 1973. Mifepristone is taken first. It is the abortion drug that is quite expensive and highly regulated. A day or two later, the patient takes misoprostol, which is much more available and can work on its own to induce an abortion. The drug was developed for the treatment of ulcers in the 1970s, but it has several other off-label uses besides abortions, such as arthritis relief. It is even prescribed for animals, which is why veterinary supply stores sell the drug. Misoprostol is even sold over the counter in Mexico.

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“It’s really based on what someone can get. And in the self-managed setting, the only way to get mifepristone plus misoprostol is through the Internet, so it takes time to wait for delivery,” said Susan Yanow, a spokeswoman for women help womena nonprofit organization based on four continents that works to increase access to abortion.

The international organization ships both drugs worldwide, but not to the US because laws vary widely from state to state. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram have already started removing posts offering to send these drugs through the mail. Many states that now ban abortion have recently strengthened their laws on mail-order abortion medications.

“We still have the right to share information,” Yanow said. “People use the Internet. People use their phones. People will find ways to get these pills.”

Using abortion pills safely

But it’s more than finding the drugs, which is why Yanow’s organization has a detailed guide on how to use them safely. And she provides training to local reproductive rights groups, as well as others.

Montana-based Lynsey Bourke of Self-Guided Abortion began producing video tutorials late last year and posting them on YouTube. explaining how to use misoprostol alone and offer ways to make the process more sacred by building an altar, burning incense and lighting candles. She even offers post-abortion yoga. instruction.

With misoprostol alone, multiple rounds are needed. Nausea is common. And the drug induces cramping and bleeding that can be alarming for those unprepared.

Even some obstetricians and gynecologists quietly support self-managed abortion.

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“I’m more concerned about people who can’t access one of these sources and are so desperate that they take matters into their own hands,” said Dr. Nikki Zite, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. in Knoxville.

She said clinical advice before taking the pill combination is ideal. For example, some patients are anemic and may bleed enough to need emergency care. And some just don’t do well with pain and a lot of blood.

“Not all patients are good candidates for miscarriage at home,” she said.

But right now, Zite can’t afford to provide that consultation. In Tennessee, he would risk committing a felony and serving jail time under a six-week ban now in effect, and a total ban on abortion which will come into force in August. And it is unclear how far the police are willing to go.


Advocates weigh how to guide those who get abortion pills : Vaccines nashville rally coathangers by caroline eggers 8b8aacafc514a28d334b366ffe9501d0668f318e s1100 c50

References to hangers have been used to protest against the decision to annul Roe vs. Wade. Abortion rights activists say “self-managed abortions” are much safer today thanks to drugs, but women still need guidance.

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Advocates weigh how to guide those who get abortion pills : Vaccines nashville rally coathangers by caroline eggers 8b8aacafc514a28d334b366ffe9501d0668f318e s1200

References to hangers have been used to protest against the decision to annul Roe vs. Wade. Abortion rights activists say “self-managed abortions” are much safer today thanks to drugs, but women still need guidance.

Carolina Eggers/WPLN

Tennessee law specifically exempts the pregnant person from prosecution. But a motivated prosecutor could find ways to bring charges related to a self-managed abortion, said criminal defense attorney David Raybin in Nashville.

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“I mean, that’s fraught with danger,” Raybin said. “I would strongly advise a woman not to use such quote-unquote clandestine methods to obtain drugs like that.”

He said it’s better to get a legal abortion in another state. But abortion rights activists in Tennessee say they know travel will be difficult for many. And even for those who can, a self-managed abortion may be more convenient. To some extent, reproductive rights groups are willing to help navigate the legal gray area.

Risk assessment

Healthy and Free Tennessee, an organization that works to promote sexual health and reproductive freedom, has organized several training sessions through Women Help Women in recent weeks. Policy director Nina Gurak said her biggest concern is not health complications, but legal risk.

“We recommend that if someone is self-managing an abortion, that they have a supporter or a friend. That supporter or friend may be at greater legal risk than the actual person self-managing an abortion,” he said. “And then you have to decide for yourself: Is it something I’m comfortable with? Is it something I’m not comfortable with?”

Organizations in states that ban abortion have to assess their own risk. They feel confident that the First Amendment protects the exchange of medical information supported by the World Health Organization.

But abortion rights advocates are torn between raising awareness and becoming a target for anti-abortion lawmakers, no longer bound by Roe vs. Wade.

“We are definitely concerned about the increased criminalization of abortion or self-managed abortion and abortion pills,” Gurak said. “We also want to balance that with the need for communities to have the information they need to make the decision for themselves.”