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The Best Defense is a Good Offense: Misoprostol, Abortion, and the Law
In recent years, relentless efforts to restrict abortion rights have intersected with an emerging movement to compromise the rights of pregnant women. The well-publicized prosecutions of several women who used misoprostol to self-induce an abortion highlight this intersection. The criminalization of women’s behavior during pregnancy demands a nuanced response from the reproductive justice community, one that differs from responses mobilized to advance abortion access. In particular, responses to the criminalization of abortion self-induction must acknowledge the complex factors that lead women to choose self-induction rather than to seek abortion services from a medical provider.
In August 2009, Gynuity Health Projects and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project convened a meeting of medical providers, lawyers, women’s health advocates, researchers and policymakers to discuss lessons learned in two prosecution cases of women who had used misoprostol without the involvement of medical practitioners. This report presents the major highlights from the meeting and subsequent recommendations for working with the media, the legal and medical communities, and with the reproductive health, rights, and justice communities.