St. Luke's Doctor: DIY Abortions by S.F. Latinas Overhyped in New York Times
reported in the New York Times
earlier this month, an ongoing study indicates that some immigrant Latinas from
fiercely anti-abortion cultures will avoid abortion clinics, preferring to end
their pregnancies by self-medicating with pills approved to treat ulcers,
herbal teas, a molasses-like substance known as
included interviews with largely low-income Latina women at San Francisco health clinics, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, senior associate at the Oakland-based
non-profit Ibis Reproductive Health, which partnered with a New York health research organization to interview
some 1,200 women in New York, Boston, and San Francisco. Grossman is an obstetrician at St. Luke's Hospital in the
Grossman says many women interviewed were aware of ways to end a
pregnancy without a doctor's help, yet the percentage who'd actually used
one of the methods herself is minute. He couldn't get into hard statistics since
the data is still being analyzed.
"It's a very small number," Grossman said. "I think [the New York Times] blew this a little out of proportion and sensationalized it. I think some women do try to end a pregnancy on their own, but I think the vast majority of women, the vast majority of Latinas, and the vast majority of immigrants go to an abortion clinic."
article included the risks of taking misoprostol (brand name: Cytotec) a drug
approved for treating gastric ulcers that has warnings about causing abortion
on its label. Grossman says the woman usually haven't gotten it with a prescription from a U.S. doctor, many times having it sent to them from relatives abroad. The Dominican woman featured in the Times article had gotten it straight from a neighborhood pharmacy.
Yet, taking the drug combined with mifepristone, or RU-486, is an
FDA-approved method of a medical abortion during the first seven weeks of
pregnancy when prescribed by a physician.
emphasized how [misoprostol] was risky and dangerous but there's a lot of research that
says this is quite safe," Grossman said. "In