For the first Never before Congress has an abortion rights advocate described how to self-manage the procedure using pills – giving a very public platform to a method that is all the more vital now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe v . Wade.
Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of abortion storytelling group We Testify, spoke at a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations panel hearing on Tuesday. The audience included four other panelists, all of whom discussed the impacts of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the landmark ruling guaranteeing abortion rights nationwide.
During her testimony, Bracey Sherman opened up about how she considered throwing herself down the stairs when she was 19 and pregnant. One night, she recalled, she drank “a dangerous amount of alcohol”, hoping it would cause a miscarriage.
“That was when [abortion] was legal in all states. Now that is not the case and I know some will try the methods I used,” she said. “And I want them to know that there are safe methods to self-manage their abortions according to the World Health Organization.”
Medical abortion is a combination of two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol – first approved by the FDA in 2000 for miscarriage and abortion care before the 10-week point. It is commonly used in health care facilities and is often the type of abortion people undergo when they go to an abortion clinic.
When used together, mifepristone and misoprostol are over 95% effective and safer than Tylenol.
Bracey Sherman explained in simple terms how to take the drug.
“It is one pill of mifepristone followed by four pills of misoprostol dissolved under the tongue 24 to 48 hours later, or a series of 12 pills of misoprostol, four at a time, dissolved under the tongue every three hours,” Bracey Sherman said. “There’s no way to test it in blood and a person doesn’t have to tell the police what they took.”
Bracey Sherman wore green – a color that has been used by advocates and lawmakers to show support for abortion rights for nearly two decades during Argentina’s reproductive rights movement.
“I’m sharing this to exercise my right to free speech because there are organizations and lawmakers who want to make what I just said a crime,” Bracey Sherman added. “Everyone loves someone who has an abortion.”
These drugs are highly regulated and difficult to access now that the Supreme Court has struck down Roe and at least a dozen states have banned or restricted abortion. As noted by fellow expert witness Dr. Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association, “says that ending legal abortion will not end abortion.” People will continue to have abortions, but will likely end up self-managing their care.
A self-directed abortion is defined as an abortion performed outside of a traditional health care setting — often when a person obtains abortion pills not from a doctor and has an abortion without medical assistance. As Bracey Sherman noted, people can get mifepristone or misoprostol outside of a doctor’s office and have abortions similar to those performed in clinics in the United States up to the 12th week.
Despite the dozens of stories of people being criminalized for self-managed care, self-managing one’s own abortion is not illegal in the United States. warn that it is unclear whether these laws would even hold up in court if challenged today.
If you or someone you know needs help managing a miscarriage or abortion on your own, please call Miscarriage + Abortion Hotline at (833) 246-2632 for confidential medical support or Repro Legal Helpline at (844) 868-2812 for confidential legal information and advice.