Self Managed Abortion
Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Update: Women Help Women launched a new website to help people in the U.S. access this information (click the hyperlink to reach the site)
There has also been a lot of recent coverage of people accessing pills for self managed abortion in the US in the news here, here and here.
MRFF does NOT support the criminalization of self managed abortion.
Using medication to end an unwanted pregnancy in the US:
If you live in the US, abortion is legal in every state.
However, it is a crime in some states to induce an abortion if you did not get the medication (mifepristone, misoprostol) from a doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or nurse midwife who is authorized to provide these medicines. It is also a crime in some states to help a woman to get the abortion pills if you are not a licensed medical clinician. The penalty for this depends on which state you live in, but can carry serious fines and prison sentences.
The contents of this webpage are for informational purposes only.
Click aquí para encontrar informacíon en español.
How can I have a safe abortion with pills? In countries where abortion is legal, two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, are available from doctors and are 95-98% effective in safely ending an unwanted pregnancy up to 12 weeks. The service is provided in clinics and is extremely safe.
Misoprostol alone is also very safe and is 80-85% effective in ending an early unwanted pregnancy (up to 12 weeks). In Mexico and many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, misoprostol is available over the counter (without a prescription) in pharmacies. It is generally used for ulcers and for arthritis.
Where can I get misoprostol? In many states along the Mexican border, misoprostol, also called Cytotec, is sold in flea markets, bodegas and on the black market. Please read about flea markets in Texas that sell good medication. It is very important to be sure you are getting genuine pills. Try to buy the medication in original packaging; do not buy loose pills. Click here for a picture of misoprostol.
In Mexico and other countries in Latin America, prescriptions are not required for most medicine available in pharmacies. Therefore it is possible to buy misoprostol over the counter. In many cases, the pharmacist will not ask why you want to buy the medicine. If the pharmacist asks, you can say that it is for your mother’s ulcers or for your grandmother’s arthritis. If a pharmacy will not sell the misoprostol to you, you can try a different pharmacy.
There are many Internet sites that claim to sell misoprostol or mifepristone. The majority of these are scams; they do not send genuine medication. A partial list of sites known to be scams are here; however this is only a partial list. New scam sites are posted on the Internet every week to exploit women who are desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy.
In Mexico, how is misoprostol sold?
In Mexico, misoprostol is available in most larger pharmacies. It is sold under several names, and the price for each brand varies. There are two large chains of pharmacies. In Farmacias Similares, misoprostol is sold under the brand name Cyrux. In Farmacias del Ahorro, it is sold as Misoprostol.
The cost for a box or bottle of 28 pills ranges from US $35 to $127, depending on the brand.
Misoprostol – 420 pesos, $35 USCyrux – 500 pesos, $42 USTomisprol – 890 pesos, $75Cytotec – 1500 pesos, $127
Make sure to buy a sealed box or package.
What if I don’t speak Spanish? In many pharmacies, if you write down the name of the medication that you want to buy, they will help you.
How many misoprostol pills do I need? If you are less than 12 weeks pregnant, you will need 12 tablets of 200 mcg each. In Mexico you usually will need to buy the full bottle/box of 28 tablets; pharmacists usually are not allowed to open the prepacked box or bottle. You can learn more about how to purchase the medication in Mexico atwww.redbalance.org/maria/aborto_medicamentos.html. (In Spanish)
How should I use the pills? Please read http://www.womenonwaves.org/en/page/702/how-to-do-an-abortion-with-pills-misoprostol-cytotec (English) or http://www.womenonwaves.org/es/page/702/how-to-do-an-abortion-with-pills-misoprostol-cytotec (Spanish) very carefully for information about how to correctly and safely use the medicines.
I have read all of the instructions at www.womenonwaves.org. But what if after taking the tablets I need to see a doctor or go to a hospital? Misoprostol causes a miscarriage. The symptoms of a miscarriage and an abortion with pills are EXACTLY the same and the treatment is EXACTLY the same. You do not need to say that you took the medication. If you took it as instructed at Women on Waves, it dissolves and there is no test that can tell a doctor or nurse that you took medicines. In every hospital in the world, doctors know how to treat a miscarriage or a complication from a miscarriage.
It is important to remember that in many states in the US, causing an abortion by yourself is a crime. Any person who knows you used abortion medication by yourself might feel obliged to report you.
If you have any questions about this information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other self managed abortion resources
Information on self managed abortion including ending stigma, changing legislation and general information ReproAction
Legal Assistance SIA Legal Team