The earlier in pregnancy an abortion takes place, the lower the risk of complications and the more options a woman has. Advances in medical abortion, which works early in pregnancy, and the recent trend by some clinicians to offer earlier surgical abortion both hold great promise for expanding women’s reproductive health options.
Since its inception, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP) has been committed to expanding women’s options for abortion. RHTP's first organizational priority was to ensure the dissemination of reliable information about the abortion pill RU-486 (now known as mifepristone, or by its brand name, Mifeprex), and to build support for methods such as this in the U.S. Today, RHTP builds support for a research agenda to promote development of additional options for abortion and educates the media, policymakers, advocates and the public about these options. The abortive methods contained in this website are specific to early pregnancy. For a comprehensive overview of all methods of abortion, please see this webpage by Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
ABCs of Abortion
Since there is some confusion about the terms used to talk about different types of abortion, here is a brief overview of the terms used on this site: Medical abortion – sometimes called medication abortion – refers to an abortion effected by taking a drug or combination of drugs, including mifepristone, methotrexate, and misoprostol. The term surgical abortion refers to an abortion which is performed with surgical instruments, such as manual vacuum aspiration. Several of these methods can be used very early in pregnancy, as early as 6 weeks after a woman’s last menstrual period.
If you are a woman looking for information about obtaining an abortion, contact your local family planning clinic, obstetrician-gynecologists, or general physician, or contact the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100. RHTP does not provide individual healthcare counseling.
The Language of Abortion
The current language used to talk about abortion paints the issue as black or white: “pro-choice” or “pro-life”. While some people believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances and others believe abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, the majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal, but available with restrictions or available only in a narrow set of circumstances. A lot has changed in the thirty five years since Roe was decided and the labels of ‘pro choice’ and ‘pro life’ are increasingly out of step with people’s lives.
Think about it:
- Our culture and demographics have shifted – we are more racially, ethnically and religiously diverse than ever before.
- We have access to technologies that provide a window into the womb; images of the fetus are ubiquitous.
- Our message about Roe, the constitution, and women’s rights, autonomy and equality is all but lost for a younger generation in the wake of reliable contraceptives, greater acceptance of unmarried moms, and growing concern about infertility.
- Young women on college campuses are more likely to want information about whether it’s safe to donate their eggs than what they can do to appoint justices to protect a right they think they will never have to exercise.
- We know from cognitive linguistics that people have very entrenched views on abortion. They no longer hear the arguments about abortion. Rather, they hear a “buzz” word and then immediately stop listening and retreat to their entrenched view. People aren’t hearing our messages because they chose not to hear them.
- Couple these trends with an anti-choice movement skillfully focused on the humanity of the fetus and more recently on women (think Laci and Connor Peterson) and well….it’s time to reexamine some of our strategies.
RHTP’s goal as part of the reproductive health and rights movement is to create a society that respects the decisions we make around whether, when and with whom to have sex; whether and when to become a parent and under what circumstances; and how to build healthy relationships and communities that sustain us in our daily lives.
Working in collaboration with invested allies, RHTP seeks to engage people of diverse perspectives in authentic conversations about the complex decision of whether to continue with or end a pregnancy. For more information on using language of empathy and personal-decision that has been shown to move people in a pro-choice direction, please see RHTP’s President and CEO’s speech “Is Abortion Bad?” prepared for the NY Salon.
Integrating Economic and Reproductive Justice
RHTP recently released a report, Two Sides of the Same Coin: Integrating Economic and Reproductive Justice, that outlines why comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion care, should be part of the discussion to improve women’s economic security. Many progressive politicians and advocates often ignore this important connection but this report delineates the links between these topics—including that family planning increases women’s economic opportunity, the lack of support for pregnant and parenting women interferes with their economic stability, the unfulfilled potential for reproductive health care to help create economic security—and the need to integrate both issues into any proactive policy agenda to achieve equality for women.
The report also draws on critical new data from a longitudinal study conducted by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California, San Francisco. That study, known as the Turnaway Study, tracks what happens to women who seek but are “turned away” from the abortion care they need. We then analyze the study’s key findings—including the impact on the subjects’ economic status, health, and relationships—as well as other data to develop a rich picture of the interplay between women’s access to reproductive health care and their economic security.