Abortifacients to Women in Countries Where
Abortion is Illegal via the Internet
By Randall K.
international abortion advocates have diligently campaigned to get
abortion legalized in countries where it is not. Now, thanks to the
Internet and chemical abortifacients such as mifepristone (RU486)
and the prostaglandin misoprostol, they are ignoring the law and
shipping abortion drugs directly to women’s homes.
Click on the large “I
need an abortion” headline at www.womenonweb.org, and you’ll be
taken to Women on Web’s “online medical abortion service.” (Women on
Web identifies itself as “a digital community of women who have had
abortions and individuals and organizations that support abortion
If you properly
answer a series of questions on the web site, the group will refer
you to a licensed doctor who will “provide you with a medical
abortion” and ship you mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone
starves the baby and misoprostol stimulates contractions to expel
the tiny corpse.
enough, but there’s more. The program is only available to women
living in countries where “access to safe abortion is restricted.”
“Is it legal?” A page
on the web site conveniently answers your question. “In most
countries,” the site declares, “there is no violation in customs
regulations when you receive the medicines at your home address.”
The site tells women that mifepristone and misoprostol are listed as
“essential medicines” by the World Health Organization and assures
them that “[p]ersons are allowed to receive medicines for personal
use only in most countries.”
There is no specific
charge for the service, though recipients are “asked to give a
minimum donation of 70 euros [currently about $100] to keep the
website online and to ensure that this service can continue to help
other women.” They also may have to pay a customs fee.
Women who want to go
through with the process are asked to answer a series of about 25
questions about their pregnancy and their general health. If the
questions uncover some health issue, e.g., a heart condition, the
site does not automatically disqualify them. It simply asks for more
information and may seek a commitment from the woman that she will
take the medicines “in or nearby the waiting room of a hospital.”
If the woman makes it
through the “consultation,” she is asked to read information about
the drugs, contraindications (conditions that make it unsafe for her
take the drugs), instructions on taking the pills, expected side
effects, and possible complications.
After having clicked
that she has read the material, she is taken to a page where she
officially “declares” her request for the abortion. In that
declaration, she agrees that she understands the instructions and
the abortion process and promises to seek help in the event of a
complication or allergic reaction. Interestingly enough, she also
agrees to accept responsibility for the abortion, and agrees not to
hold Women on Web liable for the abortion or the consultation.
Women are told that
the package tends to arrive within 10 days.
While there are
multiple and serious dangers associated with this whole enterprise,
perhaps the most obvious is Women on Web’s willingness to send pills
to a woman who is up to nine weeks pregnant. That means she may be
eleven weeks pregnant by the time the drugs reach her. One reason
that the U.S. government recommended use of RU486 only through seven
weeks was that the “effectiveness” of the drugs drops off
dramatically after that point. Issues like bleeding are also
magnified when the drugs are used later in pregnancy.
By agreeing to
indemnify Women on Web, legal and medical issues connected to the
ordering, delivery, and use of the drugs become the woman’s
responsibility. If she lies about her age (the consultation allows
women as young as 16 to process applications) or health conditions
to get the drugs, or is unaware of health problems, if she does not
have the personal support or access to the medical care that she
says she does, the problem—and the risk—is hers.
There have been
nearly a dozen deaths and thousands of serious complications among
the women who have taken the drugs in the U.S. and Europe, where
they have been on the market for a number of years. How many will
die with these abortifacients going to countries where decent
medical care is scarce is a frightening prospect to consider.
The list of
organizations supporting the network includes names both well known
and obscure, from Women on Waves, the Global Fund for Women,
Feminist Majority, several national family planning groups, and
The web site offers
no specific data about how many women have used the service or how
long it has been in operation. But it does feature the stories of
hundreds of women from at least 64 countries, many from places where
abortion is illegal, on its companion “I had an abortion” section
which can also be reached from the main page.
were promoted in the West as a way to make abortion a more “private”
personal experience. But what is becoming apparent is many of its
promoters also have seen it as a way to bring abortion into
countries where it is illegal. And as this web site shows, they’ve
already taken that idea quite far.