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Doctors Call for Decriminalization of Self-Induced Abortion

With abortion pills easily accessible online, the issue could be a big one in coming years.

PAT BENIC/UPI/NewscomPAT BENIC/UPI/NewscomThe largest American association of reproductive- and gynecological-health physicians is calling on U.S. lawmakers to stop the criminalization of self-induced abortion.

In a new position statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) "opposes the prosecution of a pregnant woman for conduct alleged to have harmed her fetus, including the criminalization of self-induced abortion." It also "opposes administrative policies that interfere with the legal and ethical requirement to protect private medical information by mandating obstetrician-gynecologists and other clinicians to report to law enforcement women they suspect have attempted self-induced abortion."

While abortion up to a certain point is legal across America, many states still criminalize the procedure if it's not performed by a licensed physician. That means a woman who terminates (or attempts to terminate) her own pregnancy could be guilty of a crime even if doing the same thing at a Planned Parenthood clinic would be legal.

Far from protecting women from unsafe abortions, these policies "may result in negative health outcomes by deterring women from seeking needed care, including care related to complications after abortion," ACOG warns.

The issue could be a big one in coming years. While self-induced abortion is certainly nothing new, the ability to self-induce an abortion safely and with relatively minimal pain is. "Medical abortion"—i.e., abortificient pills effective through at least the first trimester of pregnancy—makes that possible. And foreign internet pharmacies make clandestinely getting abortion pills easier than ever.

Combine this ease of access with rising U.S. medical costs, the disappearance of abortion clinics in many states, an immigration crackdown that leaves undocumented women afraid of too much exposure, and regulations prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe abortion pills and an increase in illegally-obtained pills and self-induced abortions is all but inevitable.

But as it stands, women who get caught using illegally-obtained abortion drugs may face charges for child endangerment, feticide, or homicide. "In some cases," notes ACOG, "women have been prosecuted under laws that explicitly criminalize self-abortion or that criminalize harm to the fetus, while in other cases, women have faced charges related to the disposal of pregnancy tissue" or for simply purchasing abortion pills.

All of this needs to stop, the association says.

"History tells us restrictive or punitive measures do not end abortion or reduce unintended pregnancy," said Daniel Grossman, lead author of the ACOG position statement. Rather than criminalize self-abortion, lawmakers who want to curb abortion rates and protect women's health should "instead focus their efforts on proven methods of success, including increasing access to routine preventive care, particularly comprehensive contraceptive choices, as well as to early medication abortion."

Read the whole ACOG position statement here.

Photo Credit: PAT BENIC/UPI/Newscom

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  • Tom Bombadil||

    "But as it stands, women who get caught using illegally-obtained abortion drugs may face charges for child endangerment, feticide, or homicide."

    I can see 'getting caught' purchasing the drugs, but how does one 'get caught' using them?

  • Karen24||

    Going to the ER with hemoraging and having traces in her bloodstream.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    I doubt they'll call the cops.

  • markm23||

    RTFA, Some states are requiring the doctor to call the cops.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    At last, a Final Solution.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I think we need to put more people in prison for behavior we don't like.

  • Tom Bombadil||

    Those prisons aren't going to fill themselves.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Harming another human is merely behsvior we do not like, then?

  • Tom Bombadil||

    That's a different argument. The one being had here is, why can a woman have an abortion with a doctor but not on her own?

  • BYODB||

    Remember, these requirements are at least nominally for 'her safety' even while the far right loves to pretend that, on occasion, as a means to limit access. In fact, the left once upon a time was on board with making abortion as safe as possible.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Robert Dear is the Christian expert on that. Why not consult him?

  • ace_m82||

    I don't like murder, theft, assault, or rape.

    Should those things be illegal?

    (I'm an An-Cap, so I can comfortably say "no". How about you?)

  • Libertarian||

    Are these doctors also in favor of making "the pill" OTC? Or would that cut into their bottom line?

  • Hank Phillips||

    The antiabortion and rubber-ban Comstock laws also instituted Asset Forfeiture as part of their penalties. They also defined whatever they didn't like as "disloyal", providing precedent for later alien and sedition laws as pretexts for robbery at gunpoint. The Wizened Christian Temperance Union stopped doctors from health inspection of working girls near army bases during WWI. That was pro-life if by life you mean spirochaetes and bacillococci.

  • Robert||

    Huh. Usually if there's a difference, they make it illegal for someone else to do something to you—cut hair, assist suicide, make you a product—but not for you to do it yourself.

  • Jerryskids||

    But wait, I thought women being forced into buying pills online = being denied access to health care! It's only health care if somebody else pays for it. I'm so confused.

  • lap83||

    "Doctors call for decriminalization of self induced abortion"

    Let's start with the lawyers

  • Hank Phillips||

    What we have here are male sockpuppets of the sort women cross the street to avoid, plotting with their male companions and collaborators to have First Responder™ service pistols pointed at physicians for providing medical care to individual women. The only identifiable female in this lobby is the Eike the Trojan Horse infiltrator elected by Nebraska Republicans to turn coat and invade the LP in a false flag operation to get the LP to betray the individual rights it gained for women in 1973. Robert Dear is the perfect representative of this class of mindless initiators of life-threatening aggression.
    Canada is absolutely rid of this sort of mental illness, so there is hope for a cure.

  • BYODB||

    So it has come full circle after all, in that we needed to legalize abortion because we didn't want women doing it themselves in 'back alleys' (as one reason among many, admittedly). This change in attitude was actually pretty expected. I do wonder, though, if they also mean it should be decriminalized if she does takes the abortion pill a week before birth...if not I'm sure that's the next thing on the agenda. After all, it limits 'her choice' right?


    Maybe it would be simpler for this association to say when it would be appropriate to prosecute a woman, or anyone, for harming a fetus. It seems that's the more narrow consideration for the pro-choice movement.

  • BYODB||


    Medical abortion"—i.e., abortificient pills effective through at least the first trimester of pregnancy—makes that possible.


    Ah, I see. They're only 'effective' for the first trimester. I'd be curious to know what happens if it's taken later than that, but not curious enough to research it at work. For what it's worth, there are a lot of things women could take for the last hundred+ years that have much the same end effect with, I'm sure, varying degree's of 'safety' for her.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Dead babies don't grow up and vote.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Did you just say Life is an unalienable right? Thank you.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    What about unborn female individuals?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Unborn and individual are in separate universes of discourse, like immovable objects and irresistible forces. Are these sockpuppets algos or just neglected?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Er... Comstock Laws... federal laws in These United and Occupied States. The bigots are not proud of these, you have to dig to find them, but they are short.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Hey--how about naming the states?

    Surely naming the states where morning after pills are illegal should be easy, right?

    What's that?

    There are none?

    Ah.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Somebody please teach the Azasloth sockpuppet how to spell and search for pregnancy prophylaxis medications, legal in all civilized places--especially Canadian provinces.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    Life is an inalienable right.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Michael is almost right. During Reconstruction when the Dems had but a handful of electoral votes, the man Lysander Spooner called the "Commander of our hired murderers" signed the Comstock laws (text at "Asset Forfeiture Panic of 1873")
    There you will see these laws forbad so much as a letter from mom advising about abortion "or any drug or medicine, or any article whatever for the prevention of conception, or for causing unlawful abortion," with ten years on a chain gang as "misdemeanor" punishment. This went on for several decades and women's rights advocates went straight to jail for so much as a diaphragm. None of the coathanger abortion lobbyists call attention to their success in banning condoms for decades. The postal monopoly meddling immediately caused a severe Crash and Depression.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Doctors Call for Decriminalization of Self-Induced Abortion"

    Someday supposed libertarian publications might get around to calling for decriminalization of *all* self medication, not just recreational drugs and abortifacients.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Search for "Canadian Liberals and American Libertarians" (https://preview.tinyurl.com/y8xzttkr) for background on how medical science and the Libertarian party deflected or at least postponed a Malthusian disaster. Reconstruction-era Comstock laws wrecked the economy in order to ban birth control. After the 1972 LP plank became the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, organized mysticism has rounded up morons as effectively as the Anti-Saloon League. Why? To bring back coathanger abortions and pistols pointed at doctors. But the population of officious male mystics is dropping about as fast as the Libertarian vote count is increasing. We need to remove from national and state LP platforms all "good faith" kowtowing to mystical bigotry and re-earn the votes of women who benefited from LP championing of Roe v. Wade.

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