Dr. Manisha Kumar is a family medicine doctor and the coordinator of the Task Force for Safe Abortion Care, a project that aims to increase access to contraceptive and safe abortion care services offered by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) projects.
I became an abortion provider almost 10 years ago. Since then, I have helped countless people around the world access safe abortion care. I’ve also witnessed the devastating complications from unsafe abortion when people do not have access to this essential health care. Unsafe abortion is one of the main causes of maternal death and suffering worldwide, and the only one that is almost entirely preventable.
An abortion with pills is a game-changer. The simple regimen, taken over 24 hours, has the power to completely revolutionize access to safe abortion care, especially in low-resource and humanitarian settings, where MSF works. Used by millions of people for over 30 years, we have decades of research and experience showing how safe and effective abortion pills are. They successfully end pregnancy more than 95 percent of the time and the risk of severe, life-threatening complication is less than 1 percent. They are inexpensive, easy to use, and so reliable that most people can take the pills at home without any problem.
Unfortunately, they’re also the best-kept secret about abortion, and many people still don’t know what an abortion with pills is, how it works, or how safe it is. Legal restrictions and bans, social stigma, and unnecessary medical requirements also limit access. These barriers disproportionately impact the most marginalized: black people and people of color, the poor, adolescents, people living in rural areas, and those affected by crisis or conflict.