In the setting of increasing restrictions to legal abortion in the United States, reports have emerged of self-induced termination of pregnancies with misoprostol, obtained without a prescription or provider. This study seeks to describe the prevalence of women seeking or employing misoprostol for self-induced abortion, and how they access information.
In a cross-sectional study of women immediately following their abortion at three reproductive health clinics in the Midwestern United States, an anonymous survey queried gestational age, barriers, online investigation about self-induction and opinions concerning the availability of medical abortion. From June to September 2016, 276 women participated out of 437 presenting to the clinics during the study period.
74.6% of women had investigated abortion options online, and of those, 30.9% investigated misoprostol online, for home use.
Women who investigated online options were less likely to have had a prior abortion than those who did not investigate online. They were also more likely to report prior home attempts to end this pregnancy. Overall, 1.6%of the respondents purchased misoprostol and 1.2% used it. A majority of women seeking an abortion sought online information prior to their clinic appointment, and almost a third of those had investigated misoprostol for home use.
Women are accessing information regarding misoprostol for self-induction of abortion on the Internet. As barriers to legal abortion increase, women may be more likely to self-induce abortion.