5 Ways to Support Someone Who Is Self-Managing Their Abortion


Having an abortion is a deeply personal choice. People who are seeking an abortion may choose to work with a health provider to have an in-clinic procedure or a medication abortion. In this restrictive political climate, an increasing number of people are choosing to self-manage their abortions.


Self-managed abortion (SMA) broadly refers to non-clinical abortion, or abortion that happens outside of the formal healthcare system. SMA happens most commonly in someone’s home, done in privacy and in safety, often with the help of a friend, family member, or caregiver. SMA may include the use of pharmaceutical pills, traditional herbs plant-based medicine, or other means to end a pregnancy (which at times can be unsafe). SMA is as old as pregnancy itself and with new medical technologies, safe abortion outside the clinic is becoming more widespread and accessible. Most importantly, no one should be criminalized for their abortion, regardless of method.


While self-managing offers autonomy and privacy, it can also present challenges due to legal ambiguity, stigma, misinformation, and limited access to support. As providers and advocates for our patients/clients, it is crucial that we educate ourselves and offer compassionate support to all people, including those who choose SMA.


Here are five things you can do to support someone who is self-managing an abortion:

1.  Educate Yourself: Understanding the Landscape
Before you extend support, educate yourself. Learn about the different methods of self-managed abortion to better understand the potential risks and benefits of each method. (Studies show that self-managing using abortion pills is medically very safe; however, there may be legal risks.) Trusted resources – such as Plan C Pills, SASS, or Abortion on Our Own Terms – can help you build knowledge in this process. Registering for an upcoming Provide training is also a great way to get more information and resources that may be able to help someone.


2.  Share Trusted Resources: Identifying Reliable Information

Many “pregnancy resource centers’ or ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ are actually fake clinics. These organizations do not provide support, care, or accurate information for people considering or seeking abortion. Instead, they may use deceptive tactics to dissuade individuals from pursuing abortion. To avoid inadvertently sharing misinformation, prioritize resources from reputable organizations (such as Provide) or the resources we link here. Accurate information is critical for individuals to feel empowered when making health decisions, and no one should be lied to about their health.


3.  Avoid Stigmatizing Language: Creating a Supportive Environment
Language matters! Be mindful of the language you use when discussing self-managed abortion. Always avoid judgmental and stigmatizing words. For example, referring to SMA as a “DIY abortion” or “back-alley abortion” causes harm by perpetuating misinformation about the safety and efficacy of abortion pills. Instead, opt for compassionate and supportive words rooted in dignity and respect for each person’s decisions. Remember that words have the power to uplift or harm – choose them wisely.


4.  Validate Their Decision: Affirming Autonomy
Every decision to have an abortion is deeply personal and deserves validation. You may not agree with a person’s decision; however, it’s still important to respect their autonomy as part of upholding your professional ethics. Express your support and reassure them their decision is valid and respected. By affirming all pregnancy decisions, you create a safe, nonjudgmental space where your patients/clients can feel heard and understood.


5.  Respect Their Privacy: Upholding Confidentiality
Privacy and confidentiality are extremely important when supporting someone who is considering or has had a self-managed abortion. Research from If/When/How shows that the greatest risk of SMA is other people who report them to law enforcement. Understand that they may not want to disclose details and or share their experience with others. By upholding confidentiality, you demonstrate trust and respect for their decisions, and you protect your community from unnecessary risks of criminalization.


Supporting someone through self-managed abortion requires empathy, understanding, and a profound recognition of everyone’s right to autonomy over their own body. As an advocate for your community, you can show solidarity with individuals exercising their reproductive autonomy and ensure that all people feel supported, empowered, and free from judgment. Together, we can create a more compassionate and inclusive healthcare system for all.


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