Tuesday Guest Post: “The New Face of Illegal Abortion”

Every Tuesday we feature a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N.  

This week’s post was written by Lily Shield, contributing editor at The Provider Project. Lily has worked in abortion clinics for the past three years, and she hopes one day to found a reproductive health clinic where empowering, patient-centered care is the standard. She is a trained counselor in the subjects of abortion, pregnancy options, and birth control, and also enjoys working on the medical side of the clinic. She hopes that the framework of reproductive justice will one day make “pro-choice” an obsolete anachronism. Lily lives in Connecticut with her partner and future dog, and plans to go to nursing school within a few years. Besides living and breathing reproductive health care, she enjoys lifting weights, reading the feminist blogosphere, and watching both trashy and quality TV. 


The New Face of Illegal Abortion

By Lily Shield
Originally posted at The Provider Project 


AlterNet has a great profile up of Women on Waves, which, if you haven’t heard of them, is a bad-ass organization that travels around the world providing safe medication abortion in countries where abortion is illegal or restricted. They accomplish this – legally – by traveling by ship and docking in international waters outside the country in question, and then bringing women who need abortions aboard, where their doctor, founder, and pretty much all-around kick-ass superhero Rebecca Gomperts supervises their medical abortions. Oh yeah, and their sister organization, Women on Web, sends medical abortion pills through the mail. Seriously. Bad. Ass!

According to the article, Women on Waves has been influential enough to inspire various countries to ban misoprostol, which is one of the two main medications used in medical abortion. Unlike mifepristone (the drug formerly known as RU-486, or “the abortion pill”), misoprostol has other uses besides its abortifacient properties. It’s primarily approved as an ulcer treatment, and so is widely available in many countries without a prescription for this purpose. Women on Waves’ impact has been as much about spreading the information about how to safely access medical abortion as it has been about the actual abortion provision; they now train international women’s groups to educate the populace to access and self-administer at-home abortions using misoprostol.

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