Abortion is a form of health care- and like all aspects of health care, it is a personal, private decision. Typically when making these private decisions about our health, we look to our doctors for guidance.
In reality though, abortion is so often criminalized, restricted, and stigmatized that you may not feel safe discussing options for termination with your care provider, much less requesting their support. In these situations, women often consider having an abortion with pills on their own. Though an abortion with pills at home can be just as safe and effective as an abortion in clinic1, many still worry that their doctor will be able to tell that they had an abortion and thus jeopardize their privacy.
In today’s blog piece, we discuss ways to ensure that a safe and effective abortion with pills is kept as private as possible, even if that means withholding information from your doctor or medical team.
When planning for an abortion with pills at home, you’ll want to make sure you are fully equipped with the necessary information and resources. First and foremost- ensure you understand the instructions for having an abortion with pills. Determine whether you will use mifepristone and misoprostol together or misoprostol only, and gather the medications ahead of time. If abortion medication is used following the proper instructions, an abortion with pills is effective 9 out of 10 times with less than a 1% chance of complication.2
In addition to understanding the instructions, make sure you know what to expect after using abortion medication and how you can support yourself through the experience. We also suggest reading through our Frequently Asked Questions section to address any specific or lingering concerns.
Before starting the abortion, consider questions like: Do I fully understand how to use the abortion medication? Do I know what to expect after using the medications, including bleeding, cramping, and other common side effects? Do I have a safe and comfortable place to stay, along with any pain medication, tea, snacks, music or other forms of comfort that might be helpful during the abortion process? What would I do in an emergency? If you feel stuck answering any of these questions, know that you can reach out to a team of trained abortion counselors who are available through livechat or email at safe2choose.org.
There are multiple methods of having a safe abortion with pills, and depending on where you get your information, they may be conflicting. At HowToUseAbortionPill.org, we only recommend using misoprostol by placing it under your tongue for 30 minutes to dissolve. This is known as the “sublingual route of administration.” Other providers, however, may suggest placing the misoprostol in the vagina to dissolve. So what’s the difference?
Though both methods are effective, using misoprostol under your tongue is much more private. Misoprostol dissolves quickly under the tongue and what’s left over after 30 minutes gets swallowed down with a glass of water. No evidence remains that the pills were used.
In contrast, misoprostol pills dissolve slowly inside the vagina. If you need emergency or follow-up care from a doctor, pieces of the pills might still be visible during a vaginal examination. Therefore, if you are concerned about privacy during the abortion, using misoprostol under the tongue may be a better option.
An abortion with pills is very similar to a natural miscarriage. Miscarriages happen spontaneously and are very common- especially within the first trimester of pregnancy. If you would like to keep your abortion private but are worried that someone may suspect that you had one, you may choose to instead share that you had a miscarriage.
In the rare case that you need to seek emergency or follow-up care after the abortion, a doctor may ask what happened. You can consider using any of the following responses, all of which are vague, general, and imply a miscarriage:
If you are looking to learn more about safe abortion with pills, you can visit our website or send us an email at email@example.com. You can also follow us on social media: we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
Claire is a teacher, reproductive rights advocate, and the manager of https://www.howtouseabortionpill.org/