A large number of people are using the internet to try to find information on having a home-made, herbal abortion, sparking concerns about this dangerous practice.
In 2019, there were around 900,000 Google searches from people who were looking for information on self-induced abortions, and around 119,000 women in the US specifically searched for “How to have a miscarriage“, according to the New York Times.
The newspaper reported that the 900,000 searches included around 160,000 asking how to get abortion pills, while there were also thousands looking for information on using herbs like parsley or vitamin C to bring about an abortion.
Around 4,000 searches looked for directions on using a coat hanger for an abortion, with 1,300 using the exact phrase “How to do a coat hanger abortion“. Other searchers looked for information on abortion by bleaching the uterus or punching their stomachs.
There’s no way of knowing for sure how many women actually use the information they find as a result of a Google search to attempt an abortion, but if they are they could be putting their own lives at risk, or at the very least may develop complications down the track.
What is a Herbal Abortion?
Herbs have been used to end a pregnancy for thousands of years. Herbs such as Pennyroyal, Cotton Root Bark, Mugwort, Blue Cohosh Root and more.
Many of these herbs are used for other medicinal purposes. For example, Pennyroyal which is perhaps the most well-known pregnancy-ending herb was also used to treat the common cold, pneumonia and fatigue.
Why Are Women Even Thinking About Home Abortions?
For Australian women, some may feel they have no option but to attempt home abortions because they aren’t able to easily access a medical abortion where they live. Or they cannot afford the procedure (there can often be an out of pocket cost obtaining one under Medicare, of hundreds of dollars), or they might be young and scared and afraid of parental consequences
One of the reasons legal abortions have been sought for women is because historically when they have tried to end unintended pregnancies it jeopardises their health and safety in the process.
Women Die Using Home Remedies for Abortion
According to the World Health Organisation, around 68,000 women around the world die each year as a result of unsafe abortion. Between two million and seven million will survive but have long-term complications or diseases such as incomplete abortion, haemorrhage, infection and injury to internal organs, such as tearing or puncturing the uterus.
And if you think that a herbal option is less dangerous, think again.
A Herbal Abortion is a Dangerous Myth
An OB/GYN, Dr Jen Gunter, has posted a blog post titled “There Is No Safe DIY Herbal Abortion”. She warns that any information found on the internet about herbal abortions is often dangerous and lacks background studies and proper evidence. She says many sites promoting herbal abortions are incredibly misleading, even if they seem legit.
“The idea that there are safe plants or other botanicals for home abortion is a dangerous myth that kills thousands of women every year,” Dr Gunter said.”Anyone who promotes the idea of safe ‘herbal’ abortion should be ashamed of themselves.”
If you need advice about choices to end your pregnancy, it’s important to seek out unbiased sources of information. This includes family planning clinics, Children by Choice (QLD) or Dr Marie Marie Stopes International Clinics. These services will provide you judgement-free information to help you to make the right, safe, decision for you.