New website helps US women self-induce abortions

image source, Getty Images

An international advocacy group has launched a website in the US to help women self-induce abortions due to concerns about restrictive laws.

Women Help Women, a Netherlands-based group, wants to provide guidance for American women who may have obtained abortion pills illegally.

Abortion is legal in the US, but more recently several Republican states have passed stringent abortion laws.

Some US women have voiced concerns that their abortion rights could be revoked.

"There is a lot of fear and worry that, with the current administration and restrictions that are to the enormous disadvantage of girls and women, that access to clinical care might further diminish," Kinga Jelinska, the group's executive director, told the Washington Post.

Women Help Women already advises women around the world on how to take mifepristone, which blocks pregnancy development, and misoprostol, which induces miscarriage.

media captionAmy has to travel eight hours for an abortion

The two drugs, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, are used in combination until the 10th week of pregnancy, but must be administered by a health care clinician.

On Thursday, the group launched a new section called Self-Managed Abortions; Safe and Supported (SASS), which features counsellors who can provide support in real-time and make sure that self-induced abortions are "medically and legally safe as possible", according to the website.

The counsellors, who are trained by medical professionals, will also direct women to clinics or foundations that can help them pay for an abortion at a clinic.

The group, however, will not provide abortion drugs to women in the US.

Anti-abortion activists argue that using the drug without medical supervision can lead to serious complications.

Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, said these type of drugs could "result in serious injury" if mishandled.

But Women Help Women contends American women have long been performing abortions themselves and its site serves as a support system to help minimise the risk of complications.

The case for abortion

media captionWhy one woman decided to terminate her pregnancy - and defends Planned Parenthood

The case against

media captionJeanne Mancini organises March for Life, a major anti-abortion rally in the US

Some US states have made it illegal to self-induce abortion without medical supervision, which underscores legal questions about the website in an increasingly anti-abortion landscape.

In fact, a Pennsylvania woman went to jail in 2014 for obtaining abortion pills online for her daughter.

More recently, President Donald Trump signed two anti-abortion measures, including one aimed at rolling back federal funding for the US women's group Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions.

In January, he signed an executive order to ban federal money from going to international aid groups which perform or provide information on abortions.