Following the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of self-care, abortion self-care is the ability of pregnant individuals to manage their unwanted pregnancies with or without the support of health care providers—particularly, in the early weeks of pregnancy (up to 12 weeks’ gestation). The advent of medication abortion (MA) has made this possible, as early self-managed MA at home is a safe, acceptable and cost-effective method of pregnancy termination. The drugs currently available for MA are mifepristone and misoprostol, as well as the two packaged together (also known as the combipack), which is more efficacious than misoprostol alone in evacuating the uterus and is considered the first-line medication for MA. Regardless of the legality of abortion where they live, women worldwide are using these medications to self-manage pregnancy termination inside or outside clinical settings—in conjunction with telemedicine services, peer-led support groups, hotlines and online information sources—which has contributed significantly to reducing maternal mortality and morbidity from unsafe procedures.
Lucia Vázquez-Quesada is senior program officer; and Isabel Vieitez is associate II and country director—both with Population Council, Mexico, Mexico City. Ankita Shukla is program officer; and Rajib Acharya is associate II—both with Population Council, India, New Delhi. Saumya RamaRao is senior associate, Population Council, New York.