Jill Durocher

Self-Managed Abortion via the Internet: Analysis of One Year of Service Delivery Data from Women Help Women

February 13th, 2023
Medication Abortion
Shochet T, Pizzarossa LB, Larrea S, Blum J, Jelinska K, Comendant R, Sagaidac I

The most-read article of 2023 on Gates Open Research; 2023 Feb 13; 7:41: doi: 10.12688/gatesopenres.14369.1

Background: To better comprehend the demand for online medication abortion and to inform service delivery practice, we conducted an analysis of Women Help Women (WHW) service delivery statistics. The primary goals were to understand their user profile, evaluate self-reported outcomes and use of other medical services, and assess the overall experience both with the abortion itself and with the counseling and care provided by WHW.

Methods: We retrospectively evaluated user characteristics, abortion outcomes, and acceptability of both the medication abortion and WHW's services, using consultation data and corresponding evaluation data from a one-year period. For users who did not complete the evaluation form, WHW staff reviewed email correspondences to identify key outcomes.

Results: From August 2016-July 2017, 3,307 individuals received abortion pills from WHW. Users were geographically located in thirty countries and correspondence was conducted in seven languages. Most reported their gestational age to be less than eight weeks. Of the 2,295 who took the pills and provided outcome information, almost all (99.1%, n=2275) reported that they were no longer pregnant. The majority (84.1%, n=1576/1875) used symptoms to confirm outcome; one fourth (22.8%, n=428) sought an ultrasound and one sixth (18.0%, n=338) used urine and/or serum testing. One in eight users (12.6%, n=292/2317) reported seeking additional medical care after taking the abortion pills. Most (87.5%, n=1551/1773) reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the abortion.

Conclusions: Our study confirms that self-managed abortion is a process that people can do safely and effectively with community support and without medical supervision. In the context of a global backlash against abortion rights, self-managed abortion is an integral part of a spectrum of options for abortion care that must be made available to all.

medication abortion; self-managed abortion; telehealth.