South Carolina has become the latest state to jeopardize women’s health by vilifying and attempting to outlaw abortion. On April 26th three male Republicans on the state’s subcommittee outvoted their two female Democratic colleagues in support of S.217, more commonly known as the personhood bill. The Republican votes mean that the bill, which defines a fertilized egg, also called a zygote, as a living person, will advance to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If voted into effect, zygotes would be due the rights of a living person, meaning that abortion would be rendered illegal since the act could be considered murder.
Aside from eliminating the right to choose and not providing exceptions in cases of rape, women’s rights activists and other opponents of the bill argue that it could endanger the health of women wishing to receive certain kinds of cancer treatment that hold risks for zygotes and that the definitions in the bill could be widened to limit in vitro fertilization and certain types of birth control. If passed, the personhood bill could end up costing the South Carolina government vast expenses due to extremely likely judicial challenges.
The legislative year ends next week on May 11 but the personhood bill can still be considered next year. In the meantime, there are many other laws (CNN reports that there are over 1,000) in other states that are restricting American women’s access to legal, clinical abortions. In response, organizations have begun to advise women in the United States on how to safely terminate pregnancies themselves by using a combination of the pills mifepristone and misoprostol to induce a medical abortion. Mifepristone blocks pregnancy development and misoprostol induces miscarriage. On its own, misoprostol is 85% effective in inducing abortion. Used in combination, the two drugs (together known as “the abortion pill”) are 98% effective and approved by the FDA to use up until the tenth week of pregnancy. Currently, the abortion pill is used for almost half of all abortion procedures within clinics in the US, but the pills must be administered by a health care provider and are not available over the counter; however, the are easily obtainable online.
This is where organizations like the Los Angeles-based, Plan C, and Netherlands-based collectives, Women Help Women and Women on Web come in. All three offer live guidance and provide information about the abortion pill, including how to take it, the risks and the side effects. For legal reasons, Plan C does not offer specific instructions on where to obtain the abortion pill online. However, Women Help Women and Women on Web directly provide women with the medical abortions, after a lengthy online consultation. These organizations’ websites also provide information on where patients can obtain clinical abortions, if the service is legal in their country.
For more information about these organizations, look below to head over to their official websites. Also, check out the documentary, Vessel, to see one woman’s fight to navigate international waters in the quest to provide abortion pills to women around the world.
-Jasmine Williams for The Untitled Magazine.