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At-home abortions: A deadly trend Markus Spiske/Unsplash

At-home abortions: A deadly trend

Abortion can be a terrifying experience, going through it alone and without support is even worse.

Have you heard about the rising trend of at-home and self-managed abortions?

Maybe not. It certainly isn't something most people would think about, let alone consider, but for many young women nationwide it is becoming an option that seems very attractive.

First, please understand that this is not the same thing as the Morning After Pill, Plan B, Emergency Contraception, etc.

If you want more information on how those work, check out the information on Option Line's website.

Emergency contraception has its own issues, but it is much less dangerous than an at-home abortion.

So, if that isn't it, what is an at-home abortion?

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Simply put, an at-home abortion is any abortion performed at home and without medical supervision.  

It could be a manual abortion, like the coat hangers of old. It could be a "natural" abortion induced with herbs or other plants. 

In most cases recently it has come to mean ordering "abortion pills" (brand name: RU486) over the internet and taking them at home without the benefit of a medical exam, confirmation of pregnancy or medical oversight.

If abortion pills, as they are colloquially known, aren't the same as Plan B, what are they? 

Check out the video below for more information.


Typically, the first of the abortion pills (mifepristone) is ingested at the abortion facility. 

In an at-home abortion the mother will receive these pills in the mail and take them at home. This first pill blocks the hormone progesterone and deprives the unborn child of nutrients.

At this stage of the procedure, it is possible to reverse the effects of the pill.

Mothers can contact the Abortion Pill Rescue Network for help. It is vital that they do this as quickly as possible to maximize their chances of having a healthy pregnancy.

If, however, the mother proceeds with the abortion, 24-48 hours later she ingests the second pill, misoprostol (brand name, Cytotec). This pill causes the cramps and contractions that will help the mother deliver her baby, whether or not the baby has already died. 

It is important to note that some online providers of the abortion pill will only provide this second medication. 

This means the mother could end up delivering a live baby that is extremely premature. It could also mean that the abortion will not work and will cause other problems.

Some mothers may very well see their child, dead or alive, after delivery.

After the abortion is complete, assuming there are no problems, the mother could experience several side effects

These range from just very uncomfortable to incredibly painful. 

However, remember that these women are attempting an abortion without medical help. Beyond the expected side effects, a mother alone could end up with an infection, an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy, a uterine rupture, or an allergic reaction to something in the pills. 

In a worst-case scenario, these pills could cause a woman's death.

Tweet This: In a worst-case scenario, these abortion pills could cause a woman's death.

Many sources claim the abortion pill is safe, but ...

While many “pro-choice” advocates, such as Reproaction, are touting the chemical abortion regimen as safe, the FDA has issued a black box warning, its strongest warning, reserved for serious side effects such as injury or death, against taking these pills at home.

The FDA states very clearly that by taking these at home women will bypass safeguards meant to protect them. The FDA isn't worried about the unborn baby, they are worried about what could happen to the mother.

Beyond everything that we just covered, there is concern that if the mother obtains the pills from an untrustworthy source, she could receive the wrong medication or get the correct medication without labels or instructions. 

Many sources claim the abortion pill is safe and not much worse than getting your period. 

If that's all there is to it, why can't women take it at home?

One Cosmopolitan article first assures young women that taking the abortion pill is "safe and effective." 

Then, the article goes on to say that a woman may pass blood clots the "size of a lemon." 

Passing a blood clot (or an unborn baby) the size of a lemon would be incredibly frightening to a young woman alone and without help. In her fear of being found out, she may delay seeking emergency medical help and cause serious harm to her body.

Then, the same article tells readers that the cramping may be "intense." 

What does that mean, exactly? 

The average patient gave their pain rating as higher than a six on a scale of six to 11, with 20% listing their pain as a 10.

Those numbers were given by women with medical support, it would be interesting to see how those numbers would change if the woman in question is trying to keep her pain and bleeding a secret. 

A woman taking pills alone will also be dealing with the fear of the unknown, the fear that something terrible could happen, and the idea that her body is breaking.  If a young woman is alone it would be reasonable to think that her assessment of her pain would be much worse than one who is with a medical provider she can trust.

Who's to know whether women taking abortion pills at home are "safe"?

Now that we have covered some of the side effects and risks, what about the application? What type of individual will purchase and ingest these pills?

Some of them will certainly be women who just want some privacy. Or, maybe they're far enough from an abortion facility that they would rather do it at home instead of making the trip. Perhaps they're confident in their decision, comfortable with the risks, and have plenty of support in the home.

Or, perhaps they are young and terrified that they might be pregnant. 

They may not know for sure whether they’re actually pregnant or how far along they are, but if the pills are safe then what's the harm? 

Maybe they're being sold for sex, and their pimp doesn't want anyone in his "stable" to become visibly pregnant, so he administers the drugs on a regular basis. 

Perhaps the young woman doesn't want an abortion at all, so her parents or her boyfriend force her to take the pills and lock her up until it's over.

Who's to know? Nobody is. 

Tweet This: Who's to know if women taking abortion pills at home are being trafficked or coerced to abort, or will have complications? Nobody is.

Where are the abortion pills coming from?

Many of these websites have no interest in differentiating willing participants from unwilling ones, nor the ability to screen for that difference. Even the few that are interested in screening the recipient are unable to confirm that the person is giving them correct information. 

Some websites are even willing to ship the pills in bulk to whoever has the money to pay for them. These abortion pills are readily available to anyone with enough cash to cover them, and that should worry all of us.

Imagine for a moment that a woman has taken these pills and starts to have trouble. 

Maybe she is experiencing normal side effects, but she is frightened. Perhaps she is having serious side effects and knows something is terribly wrong. What does she do then? 

Assuming she has access to medical help, she may not be able to tell the doctor what she took. After all, what if the box is dishonest? 

Further, some of the websites offering these pills advise women to lie to their doctors. They tell them that an at-home abortion is the same as a miscarriage, and doctors don't need to know.

How can doctors treat women effectively without knowing what they took or how it affects them? They can't. They could even end up doing more harm than good.

Assuring that women have accurate information about at-home abortion 

Finally, what about the baby? 

In every successful abortion there is a dead child (or more than one if a mom is carrying multiples). Even if everything goes according to plan the end result is a mother and a dead baby.

Regardless of your view on abortion, this should trouble you. 

These pills are not safe. Women should not be told that taking them at home and without medical oversight is "no big deal." They need to know what they may be getting into and they need referrals to places that can truly help them with complications.

To fill this gap, Promise of Life Network has put together a website called This is currently the only online pro-life resource dedicated to exclusively informing and educating visitors about the dangers and risks of an at-home abortion while directing them to life-affirming resources.

Can you help? Share this article. Share the link to the website. 

Send it to your local pregnancy center, your church, your youth group and any teens or young adults in your life. 

The pro-abortion movement is strong, but we are stronger. We need to ensure that women searching the web at home have access to accurate information about this dangerous abortion method.

Editor's note: was produced by a team put together by Promise of Life Network. This article was adapted from a previous post on at-home abortions. Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue Network and Pregnancy Help News.

Sarah Bowen

Sarah Bowen is the Executive Director of Promise of Life Network, a life affirming ministry including a pregnancy medical center with locations in Slippery Rock, New Castle, Butler, and Sandy Lake, PA. She began with Promise of Life Network as a college intern in 2008, and has been the executive director since 2014. Sarah and her husband Anthony have been married for 13 years and Anthony stays home with and homeschools their four sons, Tommy (11), Eli (9), Zeke (7), and Jonah (6). Sarah graduated from Geneva College with a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a minor in Business and is currently working towards her MBA. Her first book, Courageously Pro-Life, and other resources for pregnancy centers are available on her website, When Sarah isn’t working to end abortion she can be found knitting, crocheting, riding her razor scooter, bicycling, and spending time with her family.