Tuesday, January 6, 2009

check out the hat OR do-it-yourself abortions

From Jennifer Lee and Cara Buckley in the NYT, the story of women who manage their own abortions through various chemical means.

They start with the story of Amalia Dominguez who took an abortifacient 12 years ago-- at age 18-- to end her 2-3 month pregnancy.

“I need to bring down my period,” she recalled saying in Spanish, using a euphemism that the pharmacist understood instantly....She was handed a packet of pills. They were small and white, $30 for 12....The cramps began several hours later, doubling Ms. Dominguez over, building and building until, eight and a half hours later, she locked herself in the bathroom and passed a lifeless fetus, which she flushed.

The pills were misoprostol, a prescription drug that is approved by the FDA for reducing gastric ulcers. Two new studies by reproductive-health providers suggest that improper use of such drugs is one of myriad methods, including questionable homemade potions, frequently employed in attempts to end pregnancies by women from fervently anti-abortion cultures despite the widespread availability of safe, legal and inexpensive abortions in clinics and hospitals....and that researchers say is commonly, though illegally, used within the Dominican community to induce abortion

Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, an obstetrician at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, said the trend fits into a larger context of Dominicans seeking home remedies rather than the care of doctors or hospitals, partly because of a lack of insurance but mostly because of a lack of trust in the health care system. “This is not just a culture of self-inducted abortion,” she said. “This is a culture of going to the pharmacy and getting the medicine you need.”

An interesting combo, including financial concerns, distrust of seemingly trustworthy systems, and individualism.

A spokesman for Pfizer, which manufacturers Cytotec, declined to comment beyond saying that the company does not support the off-label use of its products and noting that the label includes “F.D.A.’s strongest warning against use in women who are pregnant.” That warning, in capital letters, also notes that the drug “can cause abortion.”

But it does not always do so, not least because notions of how best to use it vary from inserting several pills into the vagina to letting them dissolve under the tongue. The side effects can be serious, and include rupture of the uterus, severe bleeding and shock....


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