There's also, of course, an excess of bad information about them online. Search "herbal abortion" on Tumblr and you'll find plenty of how-to posts. A recent article about the rise of herbal abortions on Mic underscored the dangers of taking this online advice and running with it, and abortion providers agree that the increase of women turning to at-home abortion methods indicates what a dismal place we're in when it comes to women's reproductive health. On a press call for the National Abortion Federation about the state of women's health in Texas, Tenesha Duncan, an administrator at the Southwestern Women's Surgery Center, said, "Some women may try to end their pregnancies on their own because it's so difficult to access a safe abortion in Texas. The first week after the law changed, we started seeing an increase in patients who had tried something to end their pregnancy before coming to the clinic. That week, a doctor found parsley in a patient's vagina."Unfortunately, stories about self-induced abortion are rarely not stories about desperation in a political climate where women's reproductive rights are far from guaranteed. But for some women, like Claire, a home abortion is akin to home birth: a choice."I want to be present for my birth, and I also wanted to be present for my abortion," Claire said, though she ultimately didn't go through with the herbal route because of the potential complications. "What it really came down to was that I couldn't find a witch or doula versed in herbal abortions who could lead me through it," she explained. "If I had been more of a bad bitch maybe I would have [done it myself], but honestly, I have good fortune of health care paid for through my work. I live in a city where I could easily travel to a Planned Parenthood and have a successful abortion without being shamed by my doctor" At the behest of another herbalist friend who reminded her that one can turn anything into a sacred ritual, that's what Claire did. "I ended up blessing the misoprostol in a ritual, sending love to everyone involved," she said.
Being fully informed, Grace said, is one of the best things you can do if you're considering an herbal abortion, which is often challenging in itself. "The ideal scenario is you have an herbalist—or at least someone to help you through it, like a doula—and you have a doctor who can give you an ultrasound to make sure you don't have any complications like an ectopic pregnancy. But unfortunately, most of the time, when you go to the doctor they will strongly advise against herbal abortions. It can be challenging to put together a health care team for someone who is choosing that." They also added that people with contraindications, like heart or kidney problems, should exercise even more caution, or rethink their decision to have an herbal abortion entirely.While certainly knowledgeable, Grace isn't a medical professional. Most doctors, as Grace pointed out, are quick to dismiss the idea of an herbal abortion as a safe abortion. When I contacted the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a representative from the organization told me that "ACOG does not consider herbal abortion as an appropriate way to end a pregnancy. A doctor would never recommend it." She then pointed me to some grim statistics about women driven to unsafe, illegal abortions. They result in 50,000 deaths annually.
The whole course of modern medicine has been about suppressing herbalists and midwives, calling them witches—as if that was a bad thing.