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Women on the Web
May 14, 2014 7:45 AM   Subscribe

This website refers you to licensed doctor who can provide you with a medical abortion. After you complete the following online consultation and if there are no contraindications, the medical abortion (with the pills mifepristone and misoprostol) will be delivered to you. At this moment it can take 2-3 weeks before the packages arrives. A medical abortion can be done safely at home as long as you have good information and have access to emergency medical care in the rare case that there are complications.The doctor can only help you if:
  • you live in a country where access to safe abortion is restricted
  • you are less than 9 weeks pregnant
  • you have no severe illnesses
  • Before starting the consultation, do a pregnancy test and an ultrasound, if possible. The consultation consists of around 25 questions. At the end of the consultation you will be asked to give permission to disclose all your information to the doctor. All information will remain confidential.

  • This is a map of countries where abortion is safe and legal in purple, countries where abortion is illegal but Misoprostol is available in orange, as well as the countries for which this service is intended where abortion is illegal and Misoprostol is not available in red.

    This is a project of Women on the Waves, the achingly Dutch organization famous for its
    Ship Campaigns (previously)
    Women on Waves sails a ship to countries where abortion is illegal. With the use of a ship, early medical abortions (till 61/2 weeks of pregnancy) can be provided safely, professionally and legally. Applicability of national penal legislation, and thus also of abortion law, extends only to territorial waters; outside that 12-mile radius (or 2 hours sailing) it is thus Dutch law that applies on board the ship, which means that all our activities are legal.Millions of women worldwide have used Mifepristone and Misoprostol to terminate pregnancy with impressive safety and efficacy. Therefore the medicines have been on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines since 2005. Women on Waves has already created enormous public interest in its efforts and has completed successful campaigns in Ireland (2001), Poland (2003,) and Portugal (2004), Spain (2008), and Morocco (2012).

    Safe Abortion Hotlines
    Women on Waves has supported the launch of safe abortion hotlines in Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Argentina, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Thailand and Morocco. The hotline volunteers give women information about how to use misoprostol themselves for a safe abortion.
    If this site is blocked in your location, it can also be found at any of these alternative URLs *,*,*,*,*,*,*,*, or through an anonymous surfing service such as Tor, Tails, or one of these 90+ Proxy Websites To Access Blocked Websites.
    posted by Blasdelb (23 comments total) 58 users marked this as a favorite

     
    Purple: abortion is legal (caveat: if you live in Mississippi, the one abortion clinic available to you may be on its last legs)
    posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


    Wow, neat information, thanks for posting! What an amazing project.
    posted by agregoli at 7:51 AM on May 14


    This is awesome! It's a damn shame that it's necessary but it's good to know there are people trying to help women make choices in bad situations.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:09 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


    I wonder what kinds of consequences women might face if they get caught receiving this medication in a place where that's illegal. Some of these countries are not renowned for their civil liberties. Does simply receiving a package confer any kind of plausible deniability?
    posted by double block and bleed at 8:49 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


    I wonder what kinds of consequences women might face if they get caught receiving this medication in a place where that's illegal. Some of these countries are not renowned for their civil liberties. Does simply receiving a package confer any kind of plausible deniability?

    Women in some countries have been arrested for natural spontaneous miscarriages, so the suggestion to get an ultrasound first (documenting that a pregnancy exists) might mean a jail sentence when the fetus doesn't result in a baby, even if they don't intercept or ever find the parcel.

    I'd hate to have anyone even intercept the information on the form (insecure wifi, etc.) in many locations as evidence of intent, even if I didn't go through with the abortion--it would be the perfect, terrifying trap.
    posted by blue suede stockings at 9:04 AM on May 14


    What happens if a woman lies about how long she's been pregnant, and tries to take those pills if she's at 16 weeks, or 20? What do the pills do to her?
    posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:08 AM on May 14


    It makes my heart ache at how fucking surreal this entire operation is.

    Using maritime law to provide medical care that is otherwise illegal...the very definition of bittersweet? it's such a good thing, but it shouldn't even need to exist.

    I hope I never need such services for anything medical - abortion or whatever else could be outlawed, but thank all the gods and hard-working people who makes this happen.
    posted by sio42 at 9:21 AM on May 14


    In 1996 this website would have been a felony. Quoting a previous comment of mine:
    The Communications Decency Act of 1996 outlaws discussions of "where, how, or of whom, or by what means any drug, medicine, article, or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion . . . may be obtained or made".
    It's the only felony I've committed, and the Act was ruled unconstitutional anyways.
    posted by benito.strauss at 9:29 AM on May 14 [5 favorites]


    Years ago, a friend of mine who was associate director of a state university's anthropological archives told me that when archaeologists dig under the ruins of convents going back many centuries, it is not uncommon to discover unmistakable evidence that abortions were performed there.

    She said while archaeologists didn't exactly cover this up they never made a point of calling attention to it in their findings, because they rely on the goodwill of the church to give them access to an awful lot of the most important historical sites in the world. The last thing you want is the church saying "we'll do our own archaeology from now on, thank you very much."

    At the time I thought she meant that the nuns were having abortions themselves. It was a long time later that I realized that what she was telling me is they had been secretly and silently providing an underground service.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 9:33 AM on May 14 [26 favorites]


    Orange: abortion is illegal ... that map colours Australia in orange. Except AIUI abortion is regulated at a state level in Australia and is available in all states?

    That's the one that struck me as so odd that I went and looked into it. But if it's wrong about Oz, it's probably wrong about other countries as well.
    posted by cstross at 9:39 AM on May 14


    I think that for most of the history of the Catholic church, abortion was acceptable if it was carried out prior to quickening. The blanket prohibition on abortion didn't happen until the early 19th century.
    posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:40 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


    A minor point, but at least a part of that map is misleading. While abortion is technically legal in Northern Ireland, its availability is restricted to cases where the mother's life or long-term health is seriously threatened. These exemptions are relatively rare: 51 abortions were permitted in 2013, from a population of 1.8 million.

    Citing concerns over devolved powers, the (British) High Court ruled last week that the steady stream of people travelling from NI to the mainland for legal abortions must pay for their procedure, despite being British citizens and therefore entitled to NHS services. The cost is ~£600 for the procedure, plus travel, accommodation, and potentially lost wages and childcare. Obviously, this is a fairly substantial burden for most people.

    Just one amongst many cases where abortion is "safe and legal" but nevertheless not actually available to a large proportion of the population.
    posted by metaBugs at 9:40 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


    Chocolate Pickle: What happens if a woman lies about how long she's been pregnant

    Very revealing, the way you put that.
    posted by JackFlash at 9:41 AM on May 14 [7 favorites]


    George it was probably both. It wasn't like nuns didn't get raped, or have sexual relationships. (but I had never heard about those findings before, so thank you for that comment).

    Given that women will do desperate things like use coathangers or poisonous douches to induce abortion, I'm sure many will be willing to take whatever risks they have to. There is also the expedient of having a boyfriend or male relative order it for you anonymously.

    The ultrasounds are a risk, but ultrasound machines are smaller and more portable than ever; you can bet there will be those willing to be paid not to mention someone's unwanted pregnancy.

    It's alll very dangerous, of course, but that's patriarchy; designed to control the bodies of women and punish them whenever they try to retake that control.
    posted by emjaybee at 9:41 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


    What happens if a woman lies about how long she's been pregnant, and tries to take those pills if she's at 16 weeks, or 20? What do the pills do to her?

    Ah, those pesky lying women.

    From the Women on Waves website linked extensively in the OP, "If a woman thinks she has been pregnant for more than twelve weeks, or if the ultrasound shows this, we do not advise to take Misoprostol unless the woman has medical supervision. The medicine still works, but the risk of heavy bleeding, serious pain and complications increase the longer the pregnancy lasts."

    So it isn't that the protocol is necessarily less efficacious later in the term, but you should be under medical supervision if you take it past 12 weeks in case of post-abortion complications, some of which may require surgical intervention, and the risks of which increase along with gestational age. More information on this topic can be found at the WHO Reproductive Health Library.

    PS, the most likely reason for a discrepancy between the stated term and the actual term of a given pregnancy isn't because the woman is lying, it's because she doesn't know when or if she has actually conceived. Pregnant women can continue spotting well into the first trimester. But you probably already knew that.
    posted by divined by radio at 9:41 AM on May 14 [18 favorites]


    Re: Australia, the map appears to be generalizing from the majority of state laws. It appears to be legal on demand only in the Capital Territory and Victoria; in the rest of the country there is some form of medical necessity requirement.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 9:50 AM on May 14


    I'm too tired to type it all out but here is an earlier comment of mine on the question of abortion's evolving legal status.
    posted by winna at 10:21 AM on May 14


    double block and bleed: "I wonder what kinds of consequences women might face if they get caught receiving this medication in a place where that's illegal. Some of these countries are not renowned for their civil liberties. Does simply receiving a package confer any kind of plausible deniability?"
    Jennifer Whalen, a 38-year-old mother in Washingtonville, Pa., was charged in December with felony and misdemeanor counts for ordering the abortion medication misoprostol and mifepristone online for $45. Whalen got the drugs for her 16-year-old pregnant daughter back in January 2012. She said she couldn’t find an abortion clinic nearby, she didn’t want to go out of state, and she didn’t know she needed a prescription for the drugs.
    posted by Corinth at 1:15 PM on May 14


    A minor point, but at least a part of that map is misleading. While abortion is technically legal in Northern Ireland, its availability is restricted to cases where the mother's life or long-term health is seriously threatened. These exemptions are relatively rare: 51 abortions were permitted in 2013, from a population of 1.8 million

    Yes, and this is the difficulty with a resource such as this, as positive as it seems. Most of the states of Australia have similar requirements, and abortion is nominally illegal, but it goes the other way: data is incomplete but it is estimated that around 82,000 legal terminations are performed each year regardless of the nominal illegality.

    I wonder what kinds of consequences women might face if they get caught receiving this medication in a place where that's illegal. Some of these countries are not renowned for their civil liberties. Does simply receiving a package confer any kind of plausible deniability?

    There was a case in Australia a few years ago, where a woman was charged with procuring her own abortion (the first such case in Australian history; link is to an FPP I made when she was acquitted) as her partner ordered mifepristone over the internet, despite it being legal (although somewhat difficult to acquire). Resources such as the site in this FPP might confuse women with limited access to information and end up criminalising them in a different way, when really all that's required to access a safe, legal abortion is to spend a few minutes with a counsellor.
    posted by goo at 3:20 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


    The Bruce Sterling story "Are You For Eighty-Six?" is rather presciently about this. Not sure when he wrote it but it was collected in the 90s sometime. It's about a group of women on a mission to give back reproductive freedom in an America where it's no longer available.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 10:31 PM on May 14


    Euuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurgh.

    Dear Men,

    You have no right to control the bodies or reproductive choices of women. Full stop.

    Thank you.
    posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:53 AM on May 15


    Justin Trudeau has now said that new Liberal MPs must be pro-choice, though not current ones. It's not clear if he's going to whip all votes on abortion, should they come up (honestly, this is the first I've heard of it in federal politics in years). Unsurprisingly, the Catholic church is not so pleased.
    posted by jeather at 8:48 AM on May 15


    My read on Trudeau's message is that he won't necessarily whip all abortion votes - otherwise he would say that all members, current or new, must be pro-choice (which is the NDP's policy!)

    And yeah the map has some problems with sub-national entities - PEI in Canada has no abortion providers, and I think you can make a strong case that New Brunswick doesn't either (the private clinic shut down, there's one hospital that will do abortions in the province and it requires 2 doctors agreeing that it would harm the mother) - but that's pretty common in a global resource.
    posted by Lemurrhea at 11:29 AM on May 15


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