Wednesday, 7 August 2013

"How to get rid of a pregnancy"

Having seen people tweeting about the weird and wonderful ways readers reach their blogs, we decided to delve into our own statistics to see what people have been typing into Google to end up at this blog. 

Although of course plenty reached the EFC blog through links on other sites, or searches like 'abortion education in schools', one of the most common searches was the phrase 'how to get rid of a pregnancy'. Other popular searches included variations on 'pills to get rid of pregnancy'. Further investigation showed that quite a few people reached the EFC blog through a link on which lead to this Mythbusting Monday post about medical abortion, explaining why the phrase 'abortion pill' can be misleading (Early Medical Abortion is actually a process involving two lots of medication, and two to three visits to a clinic, rather than just 'taking a pill').

It was sobering to realise that many people visiting this blog are not just looking for general information related to work or study but are likely themselves facing an unwanted pregnancy and unable to access the medical support they need to have an abortion. Sobering, but not all that surprising when you know that a decent proportion of visitors to this blog are from the USA and Ireland.

As you may know, although abortion is legal in the United States, access is severely restricted in some areas, meaning that those seeking abortion (especially poorer women) may look for 'cheaper' methods of ending a pregnancy, such as buying medication online. This graphic shows the varying levels of abortion access in the U.S - with mandatory waiting periods or insurance restrictions being enforced in many States, access to safe, legal abortion can be difficult.

Ireland, in turn, has one of the world's most restrictive abortion laws. Abortion is only available to save a pregnant person's life. Last year, almost 4000 women travelled from Ireland to England and Wales to have an abortion. Again, these women will have needed the financial means to pay for the procedure itself as well as transport and associated costs. Although the Abortion Support Network has been set up to help these women pay for the procedure, it can't support everyone. A recent article in Vice argued that more and more Irish women are turning to the internet to purchase abortion medication to administer themselves. The article points out that women taking this route are not recorded in the official statistics, although with hundreds of packages of such medication being seized every year, the number is clearly significant. 

Of course, ordering and using this medication is illegal in Ireland. But it seems that some are desperate enough to try to end a pregnancy even via methods which could put them in prison. And this is not just true of women in Ireland, or the U.S, but anywhere where abortion is illegal or restricted. And as the Guttmacher Institute makes clear, this method can be safer than traditional 'backstreet abortions' performed in unsanitary conditions: "In settings where abortion is illegal or highly restricted, it (abortion medication) has provided many women for the first time with a safe and discreet means for early termination of unwanted pregnancy." Safe Abortion Hotlines in places such as Chile, Poland and Kenya show that  where abortion is illegal or very severely restricted, there will still be women who find ways to end their pregnancies.

Unfortunately we were not surprised to see that some of these women had found their way to our site through searches for information on unwanted pregnancies which they cannot end in registered medical establishments, either due to legal, practical or economic constraints.

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