When Safe Abortion Isn’t a Choice
If she is brave enough, she will ask around. Someone will know someone who knows someone. Or something.
Someone’s grandma might know about the old days. Drinking turpentine or Clorox, which is what the poorest women often did. They also took massive doses of quinine. Equally dangerous and, like the household cleaners, not a particularly effective abortifacient. Although as faded memories become urban myths no one seems to remember that these methods don’t work and often kill, and so they remain in the lexicon of “options.”
An Internet search, if she has access and doesn’t have to worry about the prying eyes of parents or an abusive partner, might lead her to misoprostol. A friend from Latin America or Asia might be more familiar with this “option.” Assuming she gets the right dose of the real medication and not some sugar pill or poison passed off as the real thing, she might have a 30-40% chance of inducing her abortion early on. Ironically, it gets more effective as the pregnancy advances. Like most women she’ll take the pills by herself, cramping and bleeding on the toilet or squatting on the ground. No one to hold her hand. No one to wipe her brow. No one to recognize when she has a fever or has lost too much blood.
Many women find their way to people who offer certain “skills.” Procedures, if you can even call them that, offered in back rooms. Rooms that don’t have an autoclave to sterilize tools or even basic resuscitation equipment. Some rooms have the essence of respectability, many do not. Almost none are operated by anyone who has more than a cursory knowledge of the reproductive tract.