There are even people who undergo intense fertility treatments and spend thousands of dollars to get pregnant because they want biological children. I think we can all agree that not everyone is the same and in regards to pregnancy there are people who feel very differently than the aforementioned ambition and excitement. Like instead, pregnancy invokes feelings of regret, anxiety, disappointment, anger, apathy and fear. While some of these feelings pass for some people, some of them don’t. They don’t want to be pregnant. They won’t be pregnant. Ending pregnancies has been documented well before Common Era and in places all over the world. Where possible people often seek medical guidance but for many this is not legal, accessible and/or necessary. So for millennia people have been inducing their own abortions in three major forms.
- One, using sharp objects.
- Two, physically exerting themselves.
- Three, abortifacients: substances like herbs or drugs that go into the body.
1. With sharp objects the thing is go in through the vagina, into the cervical os and mix about the contents so that what’s inside isn’t attached to the uterus any more. It comes out like a super intense menstrual period. Ideally a medical practitioner would perform this kind of abortion and use a sterilized curette. They’d also use a dilator to open the os so that the cervix isn’t punctured as well. However when there isn’t help many other objects become makeshift curettes.
2. Clothes hangars, knitting needles, crochet hooks, hat pins, bobby pins, bicycle spokes, rubber tubes, umbrella spokes and the abortion stick: a carved piece of wood for the very purpose of inducing an abortion.
You’ve probably guessed this is very hard to do safely on one’s own body. In addition to hurting really badly it can lead to infection, infertility and death. Physical exertion is another way to induce abortions. This method involves disrupting the uterine lining externally such as belly flopping, throwing oneself down the stairs, punching/kicking or other big blows to the abdomen, lifting heavy weights, climbing and paddling.
One technique called the Lacedaemonian Leap was prescribed by early Greek physicians to expel the contents of the uterus. This was done by jumping up and hitting the buttocks with the heels. Girding the abdomen, lying on a heated coconut, soaking in hot water and deep sea diving. The activities we correlate with spontaneous abortions, or miscarriages, have probably been used to induce abortions. Rigorous activities like riding roller coasters are considered risk factors for placental abruption because the jostling separates the placenta from the uterus. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to take a pill and let the body do its thing?
3. People have used and still use substances found in nature or made in laboratories to end their pregnancies: Abortifacients. Here’s a big list of them, many of which you probably won’t recognize because different parts of the world, different options. My take away is that wanting not to be pregnant is not limited to any particular place, nationality, religious group, socioeconomic status or lifestyle. Statistically one in every five pregnancies ends in abortion and that’s across cultures. Presently the World Health Organization approves the use of abortion pills up to the ninth week or sixty third day of pregnancy and pills that are ninety to ninety nine percent effective that don’t involve stabbing your cervix, getting punched in the gut or imbibing potentially hazardous potions, pills that don’t involve dying to end pregnancy.