With a president committed to overturning Roe v. Wade and lawmakers across the country ramping up their efforts to restrict abortion access and block funding for Planned Parenthood, the future of reproductive rights in the United States looks increasingly grim. But as abortion access in the United States comes under threat, one international organization is hoping to erase much of the mystery and stigma surrounding self-managed abortions. The Netherlands-based advocacy group Women Help Women has launched an at-home abortion project designed to connect women seeking an abortion in the United States with one-on-one support and information about how to safely terminate a pregnancy at home using abortion-inducing medication like misoprostol or mifepristone.
Women Help Women launched Self-managed Abortion; Safe and Supported (SASS), a support and information service geared specifically to women in the United States on Thursday. The site does not sell or issue abortion pills, which are legally only available in the United States with a prescription. Rather, SASS seeks to provide information and one-on-one support to women in the United States looking to end their own pregnancies. Through the SASS project website, abortionpillinfo.org, women can communicate securely with trained counselors to obtain accurate and unbiased information about protocols for self-managed abortions that are approved by the World Health Organization.
"When someone has decided to end a pregnancy, they should be able to do so safely and with dignity," Kinga Jelinska, Women Help Women's executive director, tells Bustle. "While abortion in the U.S. is legal, it is not accessible for everyone. Abortion pills are a safe and effective option for ending pregnancy. It is important that women in the USA have more resources about how to use them and how to minimize their legal risk if they choose to self-manage their abortion."
Through the SASS website, women can find information about when not to use abortion-inducing medication, how to find an abortion clinic near you, how to obtain the abortion pill, and what the World Health Organization protocol for terminating a pregnancy with misoprostol is.
"For women, controlling our fertility through effective contraception methods and safe abortion is an integral part of our right to health and to equality, and our right to make our own decisions about our futures," the advocacy group states on their website. "Access to products and reliable information empowers women who share and women who receive knowledge."
Women are also able to use abortionpillinfo.org to communicate securely with trained counselors overseas should they have additional questions or need support. Most of the counselors working on the SASS project have as many as 10 years of experience in abortion counseling, Women Help Women adds in a statement to Bustle. They are supported by two OB-GYN physicians as well as scientific advisers considered to be experts on medication abortion and research. Women can obtain counseling in six different languages.
According to Jelinska, Women Help Women was inspired to expand their service to the United States following the election of Donald Trump. "WHW has been providing information and support to thousands of women around the world since 2014," Jelinska says. "We are now expanding this information service to the U.S. because the new Trump administration and anti-abortion legislatures in many states are moving swiftly to push abortion out of reach."