Self-induction of abortion among women in the United States

Daniel Grossman, Kelsey Holt, Melanie Peña, Diana Lara, Maggie Veatch, Denisse Córdova, Marji Gold, Beverly Winikoff, Kelly Blanchard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent media coverage and case reports have highlighted women's attempts to end their pregnancies by self-inducing abortions in the United States. This study explored women's motivations for attempting self-induction of abortion. We surveyed women in clinic waiting rooms in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and a city in Texas to identify women who had attempted self-induction. We conducted 30 in-depth interviews and inductively analyzed the data. Median age at time of self-induction attempt was 19 years. Between 1979 and 2008, the women used a variety of methods, including medications, malta beverage, herbs, physical manipulation and, increasingly, misoprostol. Reasons to self-induce included a desire to avoid abortion clinics, obstacles to accessing clinical services, especially due to young age and financial barriers, and a preference for self-induction. The methods used were generally readily accessible but mostly ineffective and occasionally unsafe. Of the 23 with confirmed pregnancies, three reported a successful abortion not requiring clinical care. Only one reported medical complications in the United States. Most would not self-induce again and recommended clinic-based services. Efforts should be made to inform women about and improve access to clinic-based abortion services, particularly for medical abortion, which may appeal to women who are drawn to self-induction because it is natural, non-invasive and private.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalReproductive Health Matters
Volume18
Issue number36
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010

Keywords

  • Adolescents and young people
  • Medical abortion
  • Misoprostol
  • Self-induced abortion
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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  • Cite this

    Grossman, D., Holt, K., Peña, M., Lara, D., Veatch, M., Córdova, D., Gold, M., Winikoff, B., & Blanchard, K. (2010). Self-induction of abortion among women in the United States. Reproductive Health Matters, 18(36), 136-146. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(10)36534-7