RU 486 abortions on the rise; harassment, while illegal, remains common at clinics
Jones said that abortion drugs held the promise of making abortion easier to obtain for women in thinly populated areas that lack clinics, or where overwhelming social pressure might deter them from visiting an abortion clinic and facing the risk of exposure. But so far, the number of facilities that provide chemical abortions but not surgical abortions is limited. The Guttmacher report showed that 164 facilities, both doctor’s offices and non-specialized clinics, offered women medical, but not surgical abortions. Of all eligible pregnancies, those with less than 9 weeks gestation, one-quarter were ended using the medications.
“The hope is that it will move out to where there are no surgical abortion providers,” Jones said. Women could obtain the medication from their regular gynecologist, sidestepping the need to visit an abortion clinic. “It has the potential to do that.”
For the moment, the study suggested, intimidation and threats of physical and psychological violence for women seeking abortion amounted to business as usual, despite a federal law that makes it a crime to block access of patients and providers to reproductive health services.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, Xochitl Hinojosa, said its criminal division had prosecuted 42 cases under the federal statute protecting access to abortion clinics since 1994, and prosecuted more crimes,involving bombings, arson and threats of violence against abortion providers, under other statutes. The department’s special litigation section and U.S. attorney’s offices had filed 22 civil cases related to the law, Hinojosa said: three in 2010, two since 2006, and the rest before 2000.