DIY Abortions On The Rise Thanks To Closing Clinics

by Danniah Daher

Abortion clinics in the United States are closing at a rapid rate, especially in Southern states. At this moment in time, there is only one open and functioning abortion clinic in the entire state of Mississippi. How women are responding to these closings is heartbreaking and dangerous. But expected. 

The DIY abortion is back (well, it never really went away. But it’s relevance is at an all-time high).

Usually when we think of at-home abortions, we think of a past, oppressive time before women’s rights and Roe v. Wade—a time when women were forced to handle unwanted pregnancies in secret, dangerous ways. A ’50s housewife searching through an assortment of pill bottles and over-the-counter combinations. Experimentation with coat hangers and bleach to induce miscarriage. Ancient medicine—women concocting toxic pennyroyal tea for female friends and clients.

But the DIY abortion is more relevant than ever. Because modern women are at risk of losing their right to choose an abortion. And it’s a very real threat to women’s rights. 

“History repeats itself, but in such cunning disguise that we never detect the resemblance until the damage is done.” –Sydney J. Harris

According to the New York Times, Google searches reveal the unwelcome truth of our current reality. In 2015, there were about 119,000 searches for the exact phrase “how to have a miscarriage.” Other searches include, “how to self-abort” and “buy abortion pills online”. Overall, there were more than 700,000 Google searches for self-induced abortions in 2015.

And the state with the highest rate for self-induced abortion Google searches? Mississippi. Tens of thousands of searches centered around abortion-inducing herbs, like vitamin C and parsley. Other searches asked the exact phrase, “how to do a coat hanger abortion.” Uterus bleaching and stomach punching were also searched.

Making abortions illegal will not prevent women from having abortions. Making abortions illegal only pushes women into the realm of unsafe medical procedures. Backrooms. Bathtubs. Bloody sheets and uncertain outcomes. 

“No matter what men think, abortion is a fact of life. Women have always had them—they always have and they always will. Are they going to have good ones or bad ones? Will the good ones be reserved for the rich, while the poor women go to quacks?” –Shirley Chisholm

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