Unscrupulously using social media to entice African women to purchase dangerous abortion pills

By Dave Andrusko

Posing as a minor seeking a chemical abortion, CNN undertook an investigation of scam artists hawking abortions to women in the African nation of Lesotho where abortion is illegal.

The intent of the story was clearly to promote abortion in this tiny nation of 2.2 million people, but what Rosalyn Warren’s investigation actually demonstrated is how so-called DIY (Do-It-Yourself) abortions are very, very unsafe and how social media are a perfect outreach tool for the unscrupulous.

Women looking to abort are using Facebook which is “by far the most popular social media network in Lesotho.” Warren writes

CNN spoke with nine women who had taken illegal abortion pills they sourced online. The women — aged between 17 and 30 — echoed the same story: they turned to Facebook in search of abortion services and connected with people claiming to be doctors online. Of the women who spoke to CNN, none believed their procedure was safe. All said they experienced extensive bleeding and faintness following the pills. None sought medical attention.

Of course, there is no way to know if the source of the “womb cleaning” drugs was a physician or any other medical personnel, or what the drugs the women were sent consisted of.

How dangerous?

The [Lesotho’s Ministry of Health] hasn’t been able to determine the precise number of women who have had health complications, or died, as a result of unsafe abortion procedures, because most women don’t disclose whether they’ve had a procedure in the first place.

Warren’s account focused primarily on one woman who was bilked out of her money on her first attempt and whose baby was not aborted. A second attempt—“this time buying pills from a man she met through a friend” —killed her baby and almost the woman as well:

A few hours after taking the pills, she woke up on her boyfriend’s bed, drenched in a pool of blood. She had been drifting in and out of consciousness all afternoon, since she’d rushed from her work at a call center, to his home in the outskirts of Maseru. By 7 p.m., after four hours, the bleeding finally stopped, but her body was cold. Her boyfriend wrapped her in blankets to stop the shivering.

“I feel as if the blood could have filled a 20 liter bucket,” Mpho told CNN. “If I tried to stand for just a few minutes, I’d have collapsed. I have never bled so much, or felt so much pain, in my life.”

Warren reports, “Facebook and WhatsApp did not respond to multiple requests for comment from CNN.”

As Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s Director of Education &Research has written, “Women on Waves” never tire of trying to circumvent local laws against abortion by dropping anchor in international waters, using drones, and the like. Others, like the ones prowling around Lesotho, are using social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp to send unwary women potentially lethal (to the mother) combinations of drugs.

Of course, what groups such as Women on Waves never mention when touting chemical abortions as “safer than Viagra” or deemed an “essential medicine by the World Health Organization” (which tells you more about WHO than it does about “essential medicines”) is that at a minimum 19 women have died—and that number was from a 2011 FDA report.

That same seven year old report found there had been 2,209 “Adverse Events.” Adverse Events is a blanket term that covers everything from the need for blood transfusions to endometritis, pelvic inflammatory disease, and pelvic infections with sepsis (“a serious systemic infection that has spread beyond the reproductive organs,” according to the FDA).

Chemical abortions are terribly painful, lethal to unborn children, and dangerous to their mothers.

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