Self-induced abortion in the news
January 5, 2009 – Today’s New York Times article, "For Privacy's Sake, Taking Risks to End Pregnancy," explored the topic of self-induced abortion in New York Latin American immigrant communities and discussed ongoing research by Ibis Reproductive Health and Gynuity Health Projects. The Times piece generated coverage and critiques in many blogs and online magazines, including Forbes.com, RH Reality Check, The Angry Black Woman, and SF Weekly. Ibis Senior Associate Dan Grossman, the principal investigator on the study, was also interviewed on KCBS radio in San Francisco, CA.
While we at Ibis were thrilled for our work to be highlighted in the New York Times, we were sorry that the article emphasized the risks of misoprostol, even though a great deal of research has demonstrated that this drug is very safe and effective at inducing abortion (although it is more effective when used in combination with mifepristone, the FDA-approved regimen for medical abortion). In some developing country settings where abortion is heavily restricted, use of misoprostol alone has helped to avert deaths from unsafe abortion, and a modeling exercise undertaken by Ibis and UCSF showed that increased use of misoprostol alone could reduce abortion-related mortality by half. A letter to the editor from Ibis and Gynuity published in Medical News Today and Hispanic Trending expressed our concerns about how the Times and these outlets mischaracterized our research and the issue of self-induced abortion in US immigrant communities. Letters to the editor published in the Times also raise important issues about abortion access and affordability for low-income and immigrant women in the United States.