The Times also looks at a post-Roe world, should it be overturned:
Even if the court restricts or eliminates the right to an abortion, the often-raised specter of a return to back-alley abortions is not likely to be realized, said Dr. Beverly Winikoff, president of Gynuity Health Services, a nonprofit group that supports access to abortion. “The conditions that existed before 1973 were much different than what they are in 2005,” she said. “We have better antibiotics now and better surgical treatments.”
But no change is bigger than the advent of an inexpensive drug called misoprostol, which the federal Food and Drug Administration approved for treatment of ulcers in 1988, but which has been used in millions of self-administered abortions worldwide. If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, freeing states to ban abortion, this common prescription drug, often known by the brand name Cytotec, could emerge as a cheap, relatively safe alternative to the practices that proliferated before Roe.
“We won’t go back to the days of coat hangers and knitting needles,” said Dr. Jerry Edwards, an abortion provider in Little Rock, Ark. “Rich women will fly to California; poor women will use Cytotec.”
Because it was never intended for use in abortions, it has not been widely tested for safety and effectiveness…
Dr. Jain said researchers still need to learn more about what happens when the drug doesn’t work. Currently, if women fail to terminate a pregnancy using RU-486 and misoprostol, they still have a surgical abortion. But if abortion were illegal, many of these women might carry to term. “Data suggest it causes birth defects, including facial paralysis and limb defects,” Dr. Jain said. “It’s hard to quantify, but yes, there probably is a risk.”
And widespread use of misoprostol could have another unintended consequence, said Mitchell Creinin, director of family planning at the University of Pittsburgh, who has run clinical trials on the drug. In Brazil, if women have problems with the drug, they go to the hospital to be treated for miscarriage. If women in the United States start using misoprostol for abortions, Dr. Creinin said, “someone going through a miscarriage is going to be looked at suspiciously, like, ‘Did you do something?’ ”
Dr. Creinin added that “compared to when abortion was illegal before Roe, misoprostol is still safer.” But as with any illegal drug, there is a period of elevated risk before users discover the proper dosages and protocols. If abortion became illegal, he said, “If I were a woman, I’d rather go to Brazil than Mississippi, because at least there they’ve learned how to do it.”
Read the whole thing.