Are there safe ways to induce a miscarriage?

Dear Alice,

I have just found out that I am one week pregnant. My boyfriend and I both agree that it is not the time for this. We do not have the money for an abortion. Is there any way to safely force a miscarriage?

Dear Reader,

Trained, qualified health care providers safely terminate pregnancies since there is no safe way to induce (or force) a miscarriage on your own. Before abortion was legalized in the United States as a choice for women in 1973, millions of women tried "do-it-yourself" methods or visited "back-alley doctors" to end unwanted pregnancies. Thousands died, and many more were permanently injured.

It's vital not to let money stand in the way of your health care. Abortion costs vary depending on the setting — clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, tend to be less expensive (some even have sliding scale fees); private hospitals and doctor's offices usually are more expensive. If you are at a university, funds for this type of procedure may also be available. Many private health insurance plans pay for some or all of the expenses. Medicaid covers the cost of abortion in some, but not all, states. The National Network of Abortion Funds provides a listing of community abortion funds throughout the U.S. These funds provide financial aid to help low income women obtain an abortion.

First trimester abortions (abortions up to the thirteenth week of pregnancy) typically cost around $400. Since you are about one week along in your pregnancy, you may have a choice between a medical abortion using Mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486) and a surgical abortion. A health care provider will be able to give you additional info (or you can check on your own). As the pregnancy progresses, pregnancy terminations become more expensive and providers more difficult to find, as risks and complications from the procedure also increase. To learn more about the abortion options and related information, take a look at Does having an abortion hurt? in the Go Ask Alice! archives.

Fortunately, women in the U.S. today, even those with low income, have various options and resources available to them.

Last updated Jun 25, 2015
Originally published Oct 19, 2001

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