A Dutch organization that advises women on reproductive rights has now launched a website to help US women terminate pregnancies on their own. The Guardian reports on the "Self-Managed Abortion: Safe and Supported" portal, or SASS, set up by Women Help Women. Through it, 23 trained counselors will answer questions and give advice if women have already decided to take the drug misoprostol. The medication, which, when taken alone or in combination with mifepristone, keeps a pregnancy from happening, is only legal in the US at medical facilities, though it can be purchased OTC in Central American nations. A Women Help Women rep says the idea for the site came about after a Guardian story documenting a Texas woman's trip to Mexico to get the drug, and all the questions she had once she got it.
The site won't provide pills, and organizers say they won't even suggest women take them—they're just there to keep women safe if they've already decided to. "It's worse to just remain silent," says a UC San Francisco obstetrics professor who calls misoprostol a "very safe and effective" drug (though it's more effective taken with mifepristone, which isn't as easy to obtain). For women who do have complications and must seek medical care, the Washington Post notes they'll be advised that drug-induced and spontaneous abortions typically look the same, and that the drug isn't detectable via drug test. Abortion foes note the meds can be dangerous if not taken correctly or if taken late in the gestation period, and that this site could put women at risk by providing info on taking them. Women Help Women is being cautious in case of legal ramifications: Its servers are located outside the US, as are its two dozen or so staffers. (Read more abortion stories.)