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Deacon Samuel Lee, a lobbyist for of Campaign Life Missouri, spoke during a workshop Oct. 6 at the Missouri Catholic Conference 2018 Annual Assembly.
Deacon Samuel Lee, a lobbyist for of Campaign Life Missouri, spoke during a workshop Oct. 6 at the Missouri Catholic Conference 2018 Annual Assembly.

Pro-life lobbyist notes growing trend of promoting ‘self-managed’ abortions online

Self-induced abortion has existed since the beginning of time. And even since the time of Roe vs. Wade, which led to legal abortion in the United States, methods of self-induced abortion continue.

Pro-life lobbyist Deacon Sam Lee has been tracking information on self-induced abortions in the United States. At a workshop Oct. 6 at the Missouri Catholic Conference Assembly, Deacon Lee noted at the end of his presentation on pro-life legislation about a growing movement of pro-abortion advocates who promote how to obtain the pills used in a medication abortion — mifepristone and misoprostol — online and elsewhere.

“People who support abortion, they already have got their game plan figured out,” he said. “They’re no longer trying only to keep abortion clinics open as a means to provide abortion. This isn’t just underground. There’s a whole network of people — academics — who are promoting what they call self-managed abortion.”

Easily accessible websites detail how to obtain medication, as well as instructions on how and when to take the pills, what to expect, and even information on laws regarding the use of abortion pills outside of a medical context.

There is a concentrated effort on promoting misoprostol, which induces labor, but also is commonly used in other medical settings, treating ulcers and arthritis. The drug is more widely available and is generally cheaper than mifepristone, which blocks production of progesterone, the hormone needed to sustain a pregnancy. There is no option for reversing the effects of misoprostol.

A five-minute search online led Deacon Lee to a veterinary supply store, where enough pills for a woman to procure two abortions could be purchased for about $75.

“There are websites out there that tell you how to do it,” he said. “You put in when your last menstrual period was and your age and other factors. They will tell you what the dosage should be. And they have reviews of where to purchase these drugs.”

“How do you deal with this?” he said. “There’s not just one fix for this type of problem. (People say) ‘well, they’re only doing abortions for the money’ … There are people who actually believe they are doing women a service by providing black market drugs or off-label use drugs.”

All of this sends a message that no matter what happens with the U.S. Supreme Court and the possibility of overturning Roe vs. Wade, whether there’s five abortion clinics or none in Missouri, and whatever pro-life laws are passed, “we will always have our work,” Deacon Lee said.

“We will always have our challenges,” he added. “We will also always have our opportunities to reach women and families when they are most vulnerable and provide them with alternatives and hope and light that they need.”

>> Abortions online

Women worldwide and in the United States have self-administered a medication abortion outside of a formal health care setting, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The organization, which originally was founded as a research arm of Planned Parenthood, also has noted that there is an interest in learning more about self-abortion on the internet, and searches for information may be driven by adolescents and young adults facing an unplanned pregnancy.

In its research, Guttmacher noted that:

• In a 2017 survey of Google users in the United States who searched for terms related to self-managed abortion, over 70 percent of respondents were searching because they were pregnant and either did not want to be or were unsure about wanting to be, and over 80 percent of respondents were specifically seeking information on ”self-abortion” or “abortion pill.”

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