Plan C: The Safe Strategy for a Missed Period When You Don’t Want To Be Pregnant


We have seen remarkable advances in medical technology over the past 50 years, especially in the area of women’s reproductive health. Today, more women have access to tools to manage their fertility or infertility. One of the most exciting new contraceptive technologies to emerge in the past decades is Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill. The reason for all the excitement surrounding Plan B is that it gives women another opportunity to protect against pregnancy if a contraceptive method was not used—a second chance, as the name implies.

But Plan B emergency contraceptive only provides a short window of opportunity—it is most effective if taken no later than 72 hours after unprotected sex. So, in the aftermath of having unprotected sex, what is a woman to do if neither her plan A (birth control) nor her plan B (the morning-after pill) worked? What is she to do if she misses her period and she does not want to be pregnant? Wouldn’t it be great if she had a plan C—a medicine similar to these other pills that would start her period and end her anxieties?

The concept of a “plan C pill” is not as farfetched an idea as one may think. As a matter of fact, the method already exists! It is called menstrual regulation with pills. But once again, because of abortion politics in our country, women in the United States may well be the last to have access to this important option—despite the fact that menstrual regulation was conceived of here in the United States.

The history of menstrual regulation is an interesting one that spans several decades and many continents. It began in California in 1971, when a group of self-help feminists developed a technique that allowed women to safely suction out menstrual blood and tissue. Referring to it as ME (menstrual extraction), these early self-helpers advocated that women join self-help groups and practice extracting each others’ menses around the time of their expected periods. In 1972, TIME magazine described menstrual extraction in this way:

Science-fiction writers, stymied by the laws of physics, turn to such literary devices as time warps to make interstellar travel possible. Now women, physicians and population-control advocates, dismayed by most states’ strictures against abortion, have developed a procedure that offers a similar semantic solution. In a growing number of clinics and doctors’ offices, a technique called “menstrual extraction” is being used to terminate suspected pregnancies before conception has been confirmed. Therefore an abortion in fact is not an abortion officially.

While the practice did not take hold in the United States, it did in several other countries: Currently, in Cuba, where abortion is legal, a woman whose period is two weeks late is offered menstrual extraction without a pregnancy test, and in Bangladesh, menstrual regulation—using a vacuum aspirator to empty the uterus—has been widely available for decades, providing millions of women with a safe and effective option to manage their fertility.

In Bangladesh, the provision of menstrual regulation (or MR, as it is commonly referred to) was a way for the government to meet women’s health needs, all the while steering clear of the controversial abortion debate. Introduced in 1971 and defined as “the evacuation of the uterus of a woman at risk of being pregnant to ensure a state of nonpregnancy,” menstrual regulation was promoted by the new government of Bangladesh to address the needs of the hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi women who were victims of rape during the nation’s war of independence. Since then, despite the country’s strict abortion law that allows abortions only in cases when the woman’s life is at risk, the menstrual regulation procedure is deemed legal and supported by the government if it takes place in the first trimester. Women have the procedure without taking any pregnancy test, and the providers do not inquire about pregnancy.

Historically, menstrual regulation in Bangladesh has been provided by vacuum aspiration. But in 2006 a group of nongovernmental organizations began to advocate for government approval of menstrual regulation with pills. Since then, numerous studies have shown that pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) can be used safely and effectively for menstrual regulation. A recent study carried out in urban and periurban areas in Bangladesh concluded that using pills for the evacuation of the uterus is highly acceptable to women and could increase women’s access to safe menstrual regulation services. Although this study looked at the use of the combination of mifepristone and misoprostol, mifepristone is not yet approved in Bangladesh. However, as in most other countries, including the United States, misoprostol is widely available and, while less effective when used alone, offers a safe and accessible alternative. For example, in Mexico, women often purchase misoprostol from pharmacies to effectively “bring down their periods” (bajar la regla).

Could misoprostol be accepted (and even marketed) in the United States as a drug for “menstrual regulation,” as vacuum aspiration is in Bangladesh, or to “bring on the period,” as in Mexico? That would make it a true plan C.

Women in the United States urgently need a plan C option, especially given the continued restrictions on reproductive rights such as the ones recently introduced by conservative politicians in states like Texas. Women’s health clinics are being shut down across the country, and women’s reproductive rights continue to be undermined. Given the difficulty of access to safe abortion services for many women in the United States, the introduction of a safe plan C option could greatly increase women’s autonomy and their access to safe abortion.

We can imagine many benefits to using misoprostol to “bring down the period.” First of all, it is a safe drug that is a much better alternative for women than other methods of self-induced abortions. The symptoms and side effects that come as a result of taking this medication, if they occur at all, are minor. The drug presents very few risks to a woman’s health if she chooses to use it. The biggest risk is that the medicine will not be effective, in which case she will need to seek abortion care.

Another appealing benefit is that a woman can use this plan C by herself, in the privacy of her home, without having to go to a clinic or seek professional medical attention. This allows her not only autonomy, but true confidentiality—she gets to decide whether or not to share this information and with whom. The benefits of privacy are almost as important as the benefits of safety and effectiveness for several reasons. Because the “provider” is taken out of the equation, women who do not want others to know about their situation or who fear they will be judged still have the option to take control while maintaining their privacy. Such privacy protects women from being labeled and from being stigmatized. Such privacy also allows women who live in states where abortion is very stigmatized and resources are limited to safely manage her fertility.

Finally, using misoprostol as a plan C would have the benefit of not having to label the process “an abortion.” The topic of abortion stirs up political debates that many women may not want to be at the center of. Medical technology has given women more options to take preventative action even before knowing whether or not they are actually pregnant. If a woman were to use misoprostol as a plan C, she would have the option to take the drug prior to even taking a pregnancy test. She would be taking precautions and could take the pill for menstrual regulation purposes. Not having knowledge of her pregnancy status could free her from guilt or self-stigmatization that she might otherwise face.

If the goal is to protect women’s health and make it so that women have safe and effective options to manage their fertility, then plan C—misoprostol as a menses inducer—is an essential product that needs to be introduced to the market. If the goal is to help women avoid situations where they find that they have no other choice but to seek later abortions, then they must have access to information and resources regarding all options: plan A (contraception), plan B (the morning-after pill), plan C (misoprostol to bring down a missed period), and access to safe abortion—which, by the way, can also be accomplished safely by taking misoprostol. If the goal is to give women choice and control over their own bodies, then we must combat the continued restrictions and regulations on reproductive rights and make innovative drugs such as misoprostol available.

We live in a world where the race to create new technologies pushes new products on the market at a rapid pace. Misoprostol is a proven medical technology that can give women a new, very important option in the continuum of drugs they can use to regulate fertility. But because of politics, we have not explored this plan C. Are we ready to let the women of the United States gain access to the opportunities that this technology brings?

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  • Anon rust

    Well, that’s an interesting proposal.

  • Arakiba

    Women should start organizing female-only group trips to Mexico, so women who want to do this can go there and take the pills!

  • Stephanie Lastra

    okay, so its a 1st trimester abortion that uses language to obscure that fact….wow that’s new? isn’t that already the case with “terminate the pregnancy” and “empty the uterus”? anything to avoid the reality of taking a human life. this is the same except without even acknowledging pregnancy.

    • Defamate

      A woman can do what she wants with her uterus. It is her organ after all.

    • lady_black

      It may be, or it may not be. After all, pregnancy isn’t the only reason for a delayed menses. The “taking of human life?” Absolutely not. I would call it bringing on the menses. There is no human life to speak of, other than the woman’s.

      • Stephanie Lastra

        and you can remain in denial about what a human life is, that is par for the course of the pro-choice movement

        • Defamate

          A human life that is little more than insensate clump of cells isn’t a human life at all. It’s just potential. And should not be given more rights than ACTUAL LIFE – the woman.

        • lady_black

          I’ll clue you in on what a human life is NOT. It is NOT a delayed menstrual period. Get over yourself.

          • Stephanie Lastra

            you do realize that makes no sense right? I never said a delayed menstrual cycle is a human being. But if your cycle is delayed, it could be because your pregnant. If your pregnant, then a human being has been created and if growing inside of your womb. If you purposefully force that new human being out of your womb through a suction or pill, then you have had an abortion regardless of what you call it or if you take a pregnancy test. This is just reality. I assume your an advocate for “comprehensive sex education” yet you are want to tell girls what pregnancy is and encourage them to pretend they aren’t pregnant when they very well may be?

          • HitlerWasNeverPregnant

            If your pregnant, then a human being has been created and if growing inside of your womb

            citation needed

            If you purposefully force that new human being out of your womb through a suction or pill, then you have had an abortion regardless of what you call it or if you take a pregnancy test.

            Or through birth. Birth = abortion.

          • Stephanie Lastra

            well birth does not force the baby out, its a natural bodily response to give birth when your baby is ready to be born. I guess your using “abortion” as a term to be “end of pregnancy by any means”? Birth doesn’t end the life of the baby though, I think abortion tends to imply that/require that, even miscarriage/spontaneous abortion ends the life of the baby but its unintentional whereas giving birth too early is preterm labor.

          • HitlerWasNeverPregnant

            The uterus belongs to the woman. She can do what she wants – regardless of what may or may not be attached to her uterine wall.

            Are you one of those people who also opposes certain forms of contraception because they may thin the uterine lining, preventing the blastocyst from implanting?

            And yes, abortion = ending a pregnancy. To abort something is to end it. As in, I am aborting my typing right now, by hitting the enter key to submit the message.

          • Michelle Mesick

            I’m pretty sure the medical definition of abortion is the end of a pregnancy prior to viability.

          • Mirable

            Then what would you call it post viability?

          • Michelle Mesick

            I’m not sure. I know spontaneous fetal loss post-viability is called
            intrauterine fetal demise and the procedure to remove the remains is the
            same as the procedure to remove a fetus after it’s given an injection
            to stop it’s heart. I’m not really clear on the criteria used, but some
            patients are able to have the surgical procedure where the doctor
            removes the remains and some patients go through labor. So, I guess
            induced fetal demise followed by stillbirth or Dilation& Evacuation
            or Dilation & extraction? I do wonder how those are recorded for
            purposes of vital statistics and how they’re billed for insurance
            companies.

          • lady_black

            Birth certainly does force the baby out. That’s the entire point of birth. Just stop trying to shame women. Knock it off. Go over to liveaction and do that nonsense. They’ll all agree with you there.

          • HeilMary1

            Birth is as natural, affordable, convenient and benign as CANCER.

          • lady_black

            It could be. Or maybe not. If you don’t want to be pregnant, who cares? You’re going to be relived when that overdue period arrives. There is no need of a pregnancy test. That’s just silly.

          • expect_resistance

            I understand.

          • expect_resistance

            I think Stephanie would like any sexually active woman seeking a menstrual extraction be mandated to take a pregnancy test.

            I’m glad to see there’s some coverage about menstrual extraction. I read about this in ‘How to stay out of the gynecologist’s office.” I think the book was published in the early 70s, but not sure. I really like how this empowers women to take control of their health.

          • Stephanie Lastra

            well, I think that it should be known if a woman is pregnant because if she is then its not only the lining of her uterus that is being “extracted”. I am all about taking charge of your health and staying out the doctors when you can (im a unassisted birth and miscarriage supporter, natural medicine, etc), but I don’t agree with taking human life. I also think that a woman who is not okay with having an abortion but is very upset at the thought that she may be pregnant, could suffer emotionally down the line if she tries to pretend she didn’t have an abortion when she did.

          • expect_resistance

            I see you engage in the “post-abortion shamming.” Abortion is not “taking a human life. It’s a potential life.

            As for your nonsensical last sentence, bullpucky. Women who don’t want to be pregnant and have a procedure to not be pregnant, are relieved.

          • lady_black

            Once again, WHO CARES? Don’t have one if you disagree. Who are you to tell other women how to take charge? The only “emotion” I would have concerning this is relief.

          • HeilMary1

            “unassisted birth and miscarriage supporter”

            You mean third world women should just die like flies?

          • Stephanie Lastra

            no, I mean American women choosing not to go to hospitals to have assembly line births. I wouldn’t ever want any woman to die in childbirth and I want every pregnant woman to have access to the best possible healthcare she needs and deserves, and her unborn baby as well.

          • expect_resistance

            Yes, women should have access to all reproductive health care services, including abortion. Planning parenthood is healthier for all.

          • Jennifer Starr

            What is an unassisted birth and miscarriage supporter, exactly?

          • HeilMary1

            No ob/gyn care for the financially unworthy?

          • goatini

            Or maybe you’re just another forced-birth troll trying to sell FALSE blame and FALSE shame to innocent female US citizens. I think that’s exactly what you are.

          • Ella Warnock

            I don’t know of any woman who’s had an abortion that tries to “pretend” anything in particular. Most of the time she has moved on in life; and, most importantly, has not fallen prey to anti-choicers who insist that she MUST feel abject and pitiful sorrow for the rest of her life, or that she NEEDS the love of gawd to heal her blackened heart.

            The women who have bought into that notion are indeed miserable souls who have allowed others to dictate that they must live a lifetime ruled by guilt. We’re all going to suffer emotionally about something at some point in our lives due, perhaps, to things we wish we had done differently. That’s life, and nobody’s going to get out with some regrets. If you’re an adult who knows how to handle the vicissitudes of life in a mature manner, then you’ll learn how to deal with things that didn’t turn out exactly as you’d planned. What you don’t do is give your decision-making abilities away to others who likely don’t have your best interests at heart, but rather expect you to live as THEY wish you would so that THEY will be happier and more fulfilled.

          • Shan

            Nicely said.

          • expect_resistance

            You can’t be serious. Yes, if you miss your cycle you might be pregnant if you’re sexually active or you might not be pregnant. For one to have a menstrual extraction, one does not need to verify pregnancy. I’ve often thought about how this is a great idea to speed up the length of a menstrual cycle. Instead of days of bleeding and cramps, extract the contents of my uterus.

            Do you realize how may embryos and fetuses are discarded by spontaneous abortion?

          • Stephanie Lastra

            I realize that a human life ends through miscarriage, of course, ive had that experience a few times sadly. But comparing the two makes as much sense as saying “you realize that people die from natural causes right? therefore killing people is fine.” yes, miscarriage ends life but the issue is natural death vs intentional killing.

          • HitlerWasNeverPregnant

            If you want women to take pregnancy tests before extracting their uterine lining, then you should also demand that women take a pregnancy test before engaging in ANY activity that could cause a miscarriage.

            Which, btw, would be a gross invasion of privacy. Which is what you are suggesting here.

          • lady_black

            I don’t see it that way. Sorry.

          • ansuz

            And natural death (of sapient, sentient beings) is a tragedy that we do everything to avoid. Personally, I intend to live forever.

          • HeilMary1

            No, pompous brood mare for pedophile priests, the purpose of abortion is to end deadly, disfiguring fetal assaults on women’s bodies when women aren’t up for the risks.

          • expect_resistance

            No, false equivalency.

          • goatini

            Hoo boy, another “I miscarried wanted pregnancies, therefore I want to impose gestational slavery and forced birth on everyone ELSE” troll.

          • L-dan

            Not to mention those times when you’re a bit late and spend a few days nervous and wondering, but know that it’s too early to even bother with a test. I’d be for it just to end that uncertainty and waiting.

          • ansuz

            If I’m pregnant, a new human being is not passively growing inside of my womb. It is drilling into my arteries and forcibly removing nutrients from my bloodstream, then dumping its waste into me for my kidneys to process. It is building its bones and teeth out of my bones and teeth. It pumps hormones into me, altering my body and my mind, and suppressing my immune system.
            It is not benign; it can kill me.
            I do not give my consent for this. I do not value a non-sapient, non-sentient being enough to feel the slightest bit upset or sad about the fact that it will die when I remove it from my body, but that doesn’t matter: I’d still have the full moral right to revoke an ongoing full-body donation at any time, for any reason.

          • Lana

            I assume YOU’RE not an advocate for speaking/writing English properly? If that’s beyond YOUR comprehension, it’s no wonder you can’t seem to understand the difference between an embryo and an actual person, or the concept of bodily autonomy…

          • HeilMary1

            Hypocrite, you’ve already given yourself DOZENS of chemical abortions just by imbibing caffeine and holy wine at Mass. And you do know the purpose of the RCC’s mother-killing ban on contraception is so pedophile priests will have unlimited victims?

        • HitlerWasNeverPregnant

          Why don’t you tell us what a human life. And no, ‘human DNA’ is not it.

        • HeilMary1

          If you chug coffee, consecrated holy wine, or HUNDREDS of other NATURAL ABORTIFACIENTS, then you’ve flushed out DOZENS of “human lives” also.

          • expect_resistance

            Thank you! This is what I was trying to get at.

            The other day you had a great post about a “Tampon funeral line” or something like that. Could you repeat that? And can I use that one? :)

          • HeilMary1

            If pro-liars believed their own crap, they’d be constantly attending “baby tampon” funerals? Or something like that. A pro-choicer asked pro-liars about this way before me, but knock yourself out using it and improving it. It’s a great question for Catholic priests who’d never give last rites to icky bloody tampons. Such tampons would remind them of why they’re hiding from women in the first place.

          • expect_resistance

            So true – I love it! “baby tampon” funerals. If they believed their own crap they would be praying over every discarded tampon, pad, diva cup, etc. Thanks Mary!

    • terafied

      For women who want to empty their uteri, this is not controversial language.

    • expect_resistance

      Are you suggesting a woman take a pregnancy test before having a menstrual extraction?

      Yes, the purpose of a menstrual extraction is to empty the uterus. What’s your problem with this?

    • HeilMary1

      Better to have an abortion than to be a jilted, impoverished, diaper-wearing brood mare whose neglected kids are molested by priests!

  • Joey Randolph

    The Patriarchy has proposed a new law that would permit the BIGGER, Stronger Gender to commit homicide with impunity against the other gender but ONLY by certain means. Guns, knives, bats, sticks and pipes are prohibited but any pill that does the job is permitted; in fact encouraged. A pill of any formulation that will allow a slow, bloody, painful death which will level the playing field and bring about gender equality — each gender may commit a form of homicide with impunity only under certain conditions and circumstances — is being sought by the BIGGER gender to further promote Gender Equality, Equal Rights, and close the Homicide Gap.

    The BIGGER gender is lobbying to have Obamcare cover the cost of these pills and there is great enthusiasm on the part of the Patriarchy to make this a reality. Already, Barack Hussein Obama has signaled his willingness to issue yet another Executive Order to make this mandatory within the 2,700 page Obamacare bill and 17,000 pages of regulations.

    Everybody is extremely excited about this new development EXCEPT the potential victims. They’re thinking this is crazy, ludicrous, unjust and absurd. Just not the patriarchy — they issued a similar order about 41 years ago with similar results. Women told them they were very pleased with the outcomes.

    • Jennifer Starr

      What slow bloody painful death? And what victims are you talking about?

    • L-dan

      You realize this makes no sense, right? I can’t even tell precisely what your analogy is meant to equate to…abortion? Birth control pills? The ACA?

    • Defamate

      ??

    • lady_black

      What the Sam Hill are you talking about? Do you even know?

    • http://plumstchili.blogspot.com/ Plum Dumpling

      Put down the pipe.

    • expect_resistance

      Yes, women are “pleased” and happy with having a constitutional right to abortion.

    • HeilMary1

      “Joey Randolph” has criminal Munchausen by Proxy psychosis and believes that fresh molestable altar boys (and girls) are an endangered species. He thinks pedophile priests have the right to hijack all wombs for the forced deadly incubation of new altar boys and girls. He thinks maternal life-saving contraception is “genocide” because it deprives spoiled pedophile priests like himself of endless victims.

      I’ve translated your pompous garbage into plain English.

      • expect_resistance

        Anytime a post starts with “The Patriarchy” I cringe. Rrrrrrrrr.

    • goatini

      Aaaand… cue the medieval Homunculus-believing nut jobs.

  • Tarnished

    This is not ‘Plan C’ and nor is it ‘menstrual regulation’, calling this something that it’s not doesn’t change what it is – you are talking about early abortion.

    If you miss your period because you are pregnant then YOU ARE PREGNANT – full stop, you can’t pretend that using a drug to ‘bring down the period’ is the same as menstruation because it is not. Menstruation is a specific function that occurs when a woman does not get pregnant, as it is part of the menstrual cycle it means it is only regulated when ovulation is regulated and not when a woman bleeds regularly. Triggering break-down in uterus lining when you are pregnant is early abortion, we already have this option available via both herbal abortion and medical abortion. Menstrual extraction (the process of using a device to suck out the uterus lining) is not menstrual regulation either, it was used as a means of avoiding commercial menstrual products like tampons, and a means of abortion. Any form of abortion also has risks to both woman and the foetus that may survive with abnormalities, thus not a ‘safe strategy’.

    If you don’t want to get pregnant you can use birth control, a buddy system, Plan B up to 72 hours after sex, IUD’s up to 5 days after sex, and you can choose abortion via pills or surgical options. I don’t think that we don’t need to be adding more options, what we need is to be improving sex education, access to birth control, and access to safe legal abortion.

    • Defamate

      Access to safe legal abortion is being slowly eroded hello.

    • lady_black

      Menstrual regulation with a hand-held suction device or misoprostol is extremely safe, and will gain popularity as abortion becomes harder to obtain. Pregnancy is NOT the only reason for a delayed period. Therefore it IS menstrual regulation, as the drug or device brings the period down.

      • Tarnished

        Neither of these options are ‘extremely safe’ – menstrual extraction can result in uterine perforation and haemorrhage, and both these methods can result in partial or incomplete abortions so risk the woman’s life, and can result in birth defects. Abortion is never “extremely safe”.

        Again; a woman will only menstruate regularly when she has a regular menstrual cycle. Women’s periods can be delayed for a number of reasons but more often than not she doesn’t bleed because her body isn’t ready for menstruation yet – for example if she hasn’t ovulated or ovulated later than normal – these methods cause vaginal bleeding but not necessarily menstruation and certainly don’t regulate anything.

        • expect_resistance

          For the most part menstrual extraction M.E. is very safe if done properly. M.E. can be done when the period is due. The cervix does not need to be dilated because the smallest size canula can be used. The contents of the uterus are gently sucked out, there is no cutting or scraping of the uterine wall necessary.

          For clinical abortions, most occur in the first trimester and these abortions are much safer than a full-term pregnancy.

          • lady_black

            You are right and she is wrong. Her babbling is starting to get on my nerves.

        • lady_black

          Madam, you are quite WRONG about that. I have suffered in the past from DUB and the cure for that is progesterone taken daily for ten days, during which time you do not ovulate, and the uterine lining builds up nicely. Some three days after discontinuation you will get a period from hell. Is it a “real period?” NO, it is not. This regimen is known as a “medical D&C” and it DOES get you going regularly again and does quite well at it. The bleeding is progesterone withdrawal bleeding, and there has been no ovulation. However, you have been cleaned out. Your usual cycle will resume at that point, and you should next ovulate 14 days after the bleeding starts. And yes, abortion is very safe, and the earlier it’s done, the safer it is.

      • Tarnished

        Forcing yourself to bleed at a time when you *think* your period is due is not menstrual regulation – it is simply forcing your uterus lining to shed.

        • expect_resistance

          That’s why you do it at the time you should be getting your period.

        • lady_black

          It’s done all the time. Who cares?

    • Michelle Mesick

      “Buddy system?” Please explain.

      • terafied

        I’m afraid to hear this one :(

      • Tarnished

        Using more than one birth control method at once – for example combination pill and condoms – thus reducing risk of unwanted pregnancy more so than using one birth control method alone.

        • Michelle Mesick

          Thank you. I hadn’t heard that term used in that manner before.

        • Michelle Mesick

          Thank you. I hadn’t heard that term used in that manner before.

    • Jennifer Jonsson

      I missed six periods in a row and was not pregnant. I saw my doctor every month for six months and yes, they tested me for pregnancy every time I went in there. I would have been thrilled to take something that would have re-regulated my cycle. There are other uses for “Plan C” drugs besides early abortions.

      • Shan

        Yeah, but you knew month by month whether you were pregnant or not so you were INFORMED.

        • lady_black

          Who cares?

          • Wendy Banks

            That’s what I thought when I read her comment *lol*

      • Tarnished

        As I said in my reply;

        “Menstruation is a specific function that occurs when a woman does not get pregnant, as it is part of the menstrual cycle it means it is only regulated when ovulation is regulated and not when a woman bleeds regularly.”

        You didn’t menstruate because for some reason you were not ovulating regularly or had a hormonal imbalance – all that “Plan C” drugs would do would be to cause a uterine bleed, they would NOT regulate your cycle.

        • lady_black

          Really??? Sometimes women skip periods because of their birth control, and in fact, every period you have while on hormonal birth control is not a “real” period, it is hormone withdrawal bleeding. There is a fake cycle built into monthly packets of pills, and ideally you have not ovulated, yet most of the time, you will bleed if not taking the pill continuously (as in the one period four times a year regime). So please lay off the “natural” argument. It doesn’t wash in the life of most sexually active women.

    • terafied

      And this, my friends, is the reason we need something like Plan C.

    • expect_resistance

      It’s a menstrual extraction, not an abortion. There is a difference.

      “If you miss your period because you are pregnant then YOU ARE PREGNANT – full stop.”

      No there could be many other reason to have a late or irregular cycle, other than pregnancy.

      “Menstruation is a specific function that occurs when a woman does not get pregnant, as it is part of the menstrual cycle it means it is only regulated when ovulation is regulated and not when a woman bleeds regularly.”

      Okay, no.

      • Shan

        “It’s a menstrual extraction, not an abortion. There is a difference.”

        If you don’t know whether you’re pregnant or not, how do you know what the difference IS? Especially if you have a medical problem?

        • lady_black

          Nonsense. There is no need to know whether or not you’re pregnant. Whether you’re a week late because you’re having an early miscarriage, or just a late period. This is something that is more normal than not, the loss of early pregnancy, before the woman even knows she was pregnant. There is no reason to need to know.

          • Tarnished

            Unless the woman doesn’t agree with abortion, of course! It’s not nonsense to recognise that a woman could be pregnant and so ending the pregnancy could be an issue for her.

          • Michelle Mesick

            Of course, any person who wishes to know their pregnancy status can take a pregnancy test. Nobody has said otherwise.

        • HeilMary1

          A better question for you to worry your tiny brain about is whether priests’ abuse of Viagra is used to harm the starving, homeless orphans you’ve already forced on the kids’ DEAD MOTHERS.

          • Shan

            You should really check out a person’s posting history before making comments like that.

          • HeilMary1

            You are right that I may be unfairly confusing you with similarly named trolls who nitpick with “health concerns” about all methods of birth control. They let it slip out that they oppose all birth control methods, regardless of maternal health issues, because they practice fetal idolatry.

          • Shan

            Thanks. I’m definitely NOT one of those.

          • HeilMary1

            Those trolls sneakily start out pretending to agree with 99% of birth control methods before their digital masks slip off.

          • HeilMary1

            Yikes! Sorry for mistaking Shan as a troll!

        • expect_resistance

          The cervix is dilated for an abortion, and is not for a menstrual extraction. It’s recommend use is to eliminate occasional discomfort or inconvenience or an unwanted pregnancy. Note, the “occasional” use of.

          Menstrual extraction and early termination abortion are similar technically, but menstrual extraction is not performed in a medical setting. When done by an experienced group, it can be used simply as a home-care procedure by women wishing to gain knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and to exert more direct control over their reproductive lives.” From Women’s Health Specialists.

          And, “One frequent objection to menstrual extraction is a fear that the introduction of a cannula into the uterus will cause infections or other complications. Over the past decade, hundreds of women doing menstrual extraction in the United States and in other countries have reported that they do not have more or fewer infections than other women and have noted that the passage of a very small cannula into the uterus does not appear to have any effect on a woman’s ability to carry a future pregnancy. It would seem, however, that the primary reason for this excellent safety record is the rigorous selection process any group doing menstrual extraction follows and the care with which the procedure is carried out…………Menstrual extraction should not be viewed as an attempt to avoid menstruation or short-circuit natural functions. It is a means for a woman to exert influence over changes in her body, which she could not control before, in order to eliminate occasional discomfort or inconvenience or an unwanted pregnancy.” From Women’s Health Specialists. This material is adapted from A New View of A Woman’s Body, Federation of Feminist Women’s Health Center, Feminist Health Press, Los Angeles, CA. On the Web: For more information on Menstrual Extraction, A Women’s Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction and RU486, Rebecca Chalker and Carol Downer, 1992.

          • Michelle Mesick

            Apparently I can’t leave my terminology peeve alone this morning. Menstrual regulation when preformed on a pregnant person would be an abortion in the same way a miscarriage is an abortion. Any termination of a pregnancy prior to viability is an abortion.

          • expect_resistance

            I’m arguing that the procedure of menstrual extraction was derived out of a feminist self-help setting in 1971 before Roe v. Wade. It arose from a feminist perspective of empowering women to understand their bodies better and understand their menstrual cycles. “Women’s health in women’s hands.” Yes, a menstrual extraction could be done by a physician. I believe there are very few physicians that do this as it’s not part of their medical training. If it’s done in a clinic it would be an “Aspiration Procedure.” This is a service offered at the Early Options clinic in New York. I would say if it’s done as an early abortion by a physician it’s an “Aspiration Procedure” and if it’s done by a group of women or a woman herself it’s a “menstrual extraction.”

          • Michelle Mesick

            I agree that menstrual extraction or the use of Embryo Deletion pills is no more a medical procedure than applying yogurt to a yeast infection or taking an herbal tea reputed to support your immune system. I didn’t mean to start an argument, only to point out that technically, ending an early pregnancy is abortion, however it ends. Misogynists have put so much effort into insisting everything from contraception to a desperate woman shooting herself in the stomach is an “abortion” and all the same that I’ve developed a sore spot around terminology.

          • expect_resistance

            No offense taken. I just see menstrual extraction as a more DIY process. From what I’ve researched about feminist health collectives I see them as having ownership over the process and can call it what they want.

          • HeilMary1

            I think of MEs and Plan B as the reproductive equivalents of laxatives. Imagine if holy anorexics tried to criminalize laxatives as “unnatural cheating by gluttons”!

          • HeilMary1

            I remember reading women could perform MEs with aquarium pumps.

          • expect_resistance

            It’s pretty simple to make one. For the M.E. kit it’s basically:
            • A jar
            • A rubber stopper
            • Tubing
            • A one way valve
            • Caulk
            • A syringe
            • A cannula
            • A speculum
            I found this at the-reproductive-right.blogspot. Sister Zeus (online) has great info too.

            I was amazed at how much info is available online about M.E. I first got interested in this after reading “How to Stay Out of the Gynecologist Office” about 20 years ago. (It’s a great read.) After a friend of mine did her own herbal abortion I also became interested in the viability of herbal DIY abortion. My friend was able to successfully use herbs to abort an early pregnancy and years later she went on to have a child. I’m not advocating that everyone do this but I think both M.E. and herbal abortion should be researched and the knowledge shared in case Roe would gets overturned someday.

      • Tarnished

        Menstrual extraction is the removal of the uterus lining, if the woman is pregnant then that includes the zygoat and thus it is an abortion.

        Please re-read the comment you quoted – there are many reasons why menstruation may be late or irregular, but again; if you *miss your period because you are pregnant* then you are pregnant.

        Okay, yes – menstruation is part of the menstrual cycle, regular vaginal bleeding is not the same as having a regular menstrual cycle and thus regular menstrual bleeding.

        • Michelle Mesick

          For a woman to be pregnant, there would have to be an embryo or fetus. A zygote would be undetectable even with a pregnancy test. I realize I’m being nit-picky but this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine.

        • expect_resistance

          It’s “Zygote” not “Zygoat.”

          There is a difference between a menstrual extraction and an abortion. The cervix is dilated for an abortion, and is not for a menstrual extraction. It’s recommend use is to eliminate occasional discomfort or inconvenience or an unwanted pregnancy. Note, the “occasional” use of. Some women use menstrual extractions at the start of their monthly cycle to ease painful menstrual cramps and painful periods.

          Menstrual extraction and early termination abortion are similar technically, but menstrual extraction is not performed in a medical setting. When done by an experienced group, it can be used simply as a home-care procedure by women wishing to gain knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and to exert more direct control over their reproductive lives.” From Women’s Health Specialists.

          • HeilMary1

            “Zygoat” — what Wiccans become pregnant with.

    • HeilMary1

      Female athletes and soldiers about to be deployed could use Plan C for easier hygiene.

  • Michelle Mesick

    I take issue with your assertion that:
    “Not having knowledge of her pregnancy status could free her from guilt or self-stigmatization that she might otherwise face.”
    First of all, ignorant social myths that have wormed their way into our psyche can’t be fixed by more ignorance. We need to be very clear that there is nothing wrong with the women who have had abortions. Secondly, I think there is a real possibility that people who have internalized the social myths surrounding abortion would either choose to know, or assume they were pregnant and beat themselves up (even though there may never have been an embryo). If a person is inclined to feel guilty about something then it matters to them. We can’t make the feelings go away by telling them to sweep what matters to them under the rug.

    As much as I support a grass-roots early abortion access movement to complement the home birth movement, it looks to me like access to comprehensive health care and education (including accurate embryology) will help more people. Also, I propose we call it “embryo deletion.” Could you imagine congress trying to pass an amendment regulating ED pills?

    • HeilMary1

      ” ‘embryo deletion.’ Could you imagine congress trying to pass an amendment regulating ED pills?”

      Imagine ED pill pilferer Rush Limbaugh parsing that one!

  • Shan

    I’m about as pro-choice as it gets but I strongly disagree with encouraging women to perform menstrual extraction or to use mifepristone and misoprostol to “cure” delayed menses without knowing whether they were actually pregnant in the first place. I think it’s a bad idea from a purely medical perspective for a woman NOT to know whether she’s pregnant, ever, no matter what she intends to do about it. These days, HPT’s can detect pregnancy *before* a missed period, and some of them can even detect whether you’re 1-2 wks, 2-3 wks, etc., so it’s really no more difficult to find out than coming up with $9 and the 5 minutes to pee on a stick and wait for the results. There’s no excuse NOT to be able to find out, and only YOU need to know the results. Which every woman SHOULD, as early as possible.

    I realize that the author, in trying to address the recent insane rash of state restrictions on access to birth control and abortion, is looking to open up other avenues for women to be able to exercise their reproductive options. And I think that’s truly commendable. But I also think that encouraging women to deliberately remain ignorant about their medical state (i.e.,whether they’re pregnant ) before performing medical procedures on themselves is irresponsible and potentially dangerous for both the woman and, if she ends up going to term, the baby.

    And not just medically, but because of the fact that many states still have laws on the books making self-abortion illegal. And any of these women for whom menstrual extraction or the mifepristone/ misoprostol combo resulted in an incomplete abortion and who ended up needing additional medical care could end up being prosecuted. Or worse, in order to avoid prosecution, they might AVOID seeking medical care for complications and end up desperately ill or dead.

    • lady_black

      No one is even going to know, so I have to disagree with you. A failed mifepristone therapy would end up looking like either nothing at all, or an incomplete miscarriage that would need to be completed with a surgical abortion. As far as I know there are no laws against having a miscarriage in any state, and a medication abortion is indistinguishable from a natural miscarriage. In fact, the two are identical. No different from the old school method of menstrual extraction via a hand-operated suction device, as women used to do back in the early 1970s.

      • Shan

        Absolutely not. Women hospitalized for miscarriages are routinely given blood tests and mifepristone/misoprostol could easily be detected. Not only that, they’re routinely investigated and prosecuted if someone else determines they’re responsible for the loss of their fetus. Or unborn baby, pick your term.

        And I don’t know how easy it would be to detect physical evidence of menstrual regulation, but I do know that it’s illegal in Virgina to perform one without a pregnancy test first. And that all the information I can find about it is related to it being performed mainly in THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.

        Is this the best option women deserve? No. I say women everywhere deserve much better than having to *pretend* they don’t even know they’re pregnant before engaging in medical procedures designed to end those pregnancies. It’s not healthy.

        • lady_black

          Of course, you realize that none of that is true, right? And yes, menstrual extraction is mostly done in third world countries, and it was done here in the 1970s. If abortion becomes illegal again, it will come back, BIGTIME. Listen sweetie, a medication abortion takes time to happen. Just like a spontaneous miscarriage, most women will not need any medical attention whatsoever. Later on, if there are symptoms that indicate tissue might have been left behind, it would be treated just like any other miscarriage or suspected miscarriage. Losing a pregnancy is NOT a crime, nor can it be. There’s NOTHING to investigate.

          • Shan

            Mrf. I posted some links to websites talking about hundreds of recent cases of women being prosecuted for having miscarriages and stillbirths, but…URLs seem to have flagged the post for moderation that hasn’t let the post go through yet, unfortunately.

            And don’t call me sweetie, please. I’m old enough to be a grandma. I went to consciousness-raising groups in the 1970s and had my own copy of “Our Bodies, Our Selves” as a little girl, given to me by my very own mother, just for starters. This isn’t a new subject for me.

            Really, I’m all for advocating for practical ways like ME that women can use to as far as reproductive options are concerned. But the number of RWNJ attacks against us lately make it incumbent upon us to consider legal issues as well and I don’t think we should ignore their crazy spittle-flecking zeal just because we think it’s crazy and we should expect to be able to automatically override it with logic and compassion. Because they don’t HAVE any.

            They HATE the idea of women being able to be the final arbiters of

          • HeilMary1

            That’s when you knock “baby killing” coffee cups out of their pompous hands and hound them over their Mr. Coffee / Keurig abortuaries!

        • L-dan

          Well sure they deserve better. They deserve to have abortion be legal and easily accessible so they don’t need such subterfuge. However, many states have shown that they’re willing to do everything they can to keep that from being the case.

          So…should we support rolling out more options to allow women safe access to abortion, even if it requires the technical fiction that they’re not accessing abortion to do so? I’d say yes.

          • Shan

            I’d say yes, too, as far as anybody but the woman herself is concerned and as long as it absolutely IS possible to maintain that “technical fiction” should official medical intervention be required later. I guess my driving need for garnering as much data as possible before deciding to embark on something like that leaves me kind of incredulous at the thought of deliberately NOT knowing.

          • lady_black

            Madam, there is no “technical fiction” to maintain. Your period was late. Big deal. It’s happened to me dozens of times over my lifetime. This is a way to make sure you are not pregnant. Nothing more and nothing less.

        • lady_black

          Why on EARTH would you go to the hospital?? I’ve never gone to the hospital for an overdue period happening. What is the hospital supposed to do about it?

    • http://tilia-tomentosa.livejournal.com/ Darina

      A missed period may be due to an actual health problem (not a pregnancy!) that needs to get diagnosed and treated before it gets worse. How come nobody here thought of that?

      • expect_resistance

        There are other reasons than pregnancy for missing a cycle. Could it be an ovarian cyst? Other medicine condition? Would that condition be made worse by a menstrual extraction? Regular access to health care would be beneficial to determine any underlying medical conditions.

        • Shan

          Exactly. Wouldn’t you want to know whether you were pregnant before deciding to do menstrual extraction or before taking mifepristone and/or misoprostol?

          • lady_black

            For what reason?

          • Shan

            Like I said: for our own safety, both medically and legally.

          • lady_black

            COW COOKIES.

          • Shan

            What does that mean?

          • Tarnished

            They’re saying bull shit…because apparently anyone who doesn’t want an abortion or is concerned about the health risks of such methods doesn’t get a consideration in this discussion.

          • lady_black

            I’d be more worried about the “health risks” of continuing an unwanted pregnancy. But that may just be me. Given my “druthers” I would take the pills. Early miscarriages are pretty free from risks.

          • L-dan

            How many people are likely to opt for these procedures without at least grabbing a pregnancy test at the drug store first? I think the concern there is rather misplaced as a reason to avoid menstrual extraction.

          • Shan

            ” I think the concern there is rather misplaced as a reason to avoid menstrual extraction.”

            Ah, that seems to be the problem here. I didn’t mean ME should be avoided.

          • expect_resistance

            I think for legal reasons one would not take a pregnancy test first. I wouldn’t.

          • expect_resistance

            No because it wouldn’t make a difference. Menstrual extraction doesn’t exist on it’s own and is part of holistic women’s healthcare.

          • HeilMary1

            ME has been touted for simply shortening periods, which could be very useful for some women.

          • canaduck

            I would do it for that alone.

          • expect_resistance

            If there’s a concern about pregnancy and that’s why a menstrual extraction (ME) is done at the time the normal menstrual cycle start, one could follow-up in a week with a pregnancy test.

    • expect_resistance

      Menstrual extraction was developed as part of a holistic women’s healthcare philosophy in which a woman is aware of her menstrual cycles and understands her reproductive anatomy.

      The procedure of extraction is not general performed by physician. Historically, it has been carried out by groups of women, either in a home or at a workshop or meeting. The procedure is employed as a self-care practice as part of a larger community-based reproductive support initiative. Over the years, menstrual extraction has become a crucial part of reproductive care communities where traditional abortions are illegal, both in the U.S. and abroad.

      The procedure is not illegal in the U.S. or at least I couldn’t find anything about it’s legality or illegality other than proposed legislation in Virginia.

      From the legislation, “This proposal adds § 18.2-76.3 to require a pregnancy test before a person performs a menstrual extraction on any woman for the purpose of ensuring a non-pregnant condition. Menstrual extraction is a process by which menstrual blood is evacuated from the uterus by use of an airtight, hand-operated suction device. As an abortion procedure, it is used early in the first trimester. Under the proposal, performing a menstrual extraction without a pregnancy test is a Class 6 felony. The provisions would not apply to any diagnostic procedure for the detection or treatment of a pathological condition.” Dated 1/5/2005.

      Menstrual extraction is part of a philosophy of holistic women’s healthcare. Legislating against it would criminalize women’s health collectives from performing the procedure, and be an affront to feminist healthcare collectives and self-care.

      • Shan

        “Legislating against it would criminalize women’s health collectives from
        performing the procedure, and be an affront to feminist healthcare
        collectives and self-care.”

        I agree, but there doesn’t seem to be much concern by our legislatures these days about passing (or attempting to pass) laws that are a total affront to all women everywhere. They would LOVE to get their hands on restricting this.

        • expect_resistance

          Huh? The anti-choicer/forced-birthers are trying to legislate women’s bodies. I would say anti-woman misogynistic legislation is a total affront to women everywhere. Taking away a woman’s right to choose and legislate medicine by anti-choice/forced-birthers is an affront to women’s sovereignty and health.

          • Shan

            I was agreeing with you and pointing out that the rash of anti-choice bills being cranked out by right-wingers and tea party “libertarians” over the past few years is an indication that they don’t really give a damn whether they insult us. They’d probably start salivating at the thought of finding yet another way to regulate the disposition of our uterine contents so I hope this doesn’t end up on their radar ever.

            I have to say, I don’t think I’ve EVER been so thoroughly misunderstood by so many people in such a short space of time whose SIDE I’m actually on. Although Mary shed some light for me by reminding me about the “concern trolls” who invariably show up in discussions like this. I don’t believe I’ve ever been mistaken for one before, though. For a while, it felt like that time I made the error of posting a comment on an NRO.article ;-)

            (just kidding, I don’t think I’ve ever posted there)

          • Mirable

            It’s par for the course, unless you’re being absolutely clear. I am pretty pro-choice, but have been misunderstood on other sites when using sarcasm. I think that people get so accustomed to concern trolls that they have an itchy trigger finger.

          • HeilMary1

            My trigger finger is definitely itchy and twitchy.

          • Chaosfeminist

            I understood your post when I first read it and did not require the clarification. In that same vein, I would like to point out that the Tea Party is not Libertarian (I did notice you put the word in quotes). The libertarian party opposes governmental intrusion into a woman’s medical decisions. There are anti-abortion Libertarians, to be sure but tI cannot see them supporting the recent spate of legislation which increases government control over our private lives.

          • expect_resistance

            Sorry, but we get a lot of anti-choice trolls here that claim at first to be “pro-choice” and then in the next sentence they are calling us “baby killers.” So anyone new here is often scrutinized.

          • Shan

            I got that and I’ve definitely seen it happen before in other forums. I didn’t think I was all that new here since I recognize a few names (Mary on this one and Plum on another RH article) but maybe that’s less from posting and more from lurking. I think we’re all cleared up now and bonus: new people to engage!

          • expect_resistance

            Thanks for understanding. I know I’ve seen you on other sites before too. I remember the purple flower. I’ve been posting here for about four years on and off. I used to post as rebellious_grrrl. :)

          • HeilMary1

            I don’t have the best memory and sometimes confuse people here, especially when they tweak their names and icons or have names similar to others.

          • Jennifer Starr

            I know I’m a bit late but just wanted to say that It’s nice to see you here :)

    • Joe.02

      All these downvotes even as you make clear from the start that you are clearly pro-choice is tiresome. I appreciate your comment.

      • Shan

        Thanks, but I don’t have a lot of self-worth invested in the up- or down-votes I receive. I was more disturbed by seeing the message I was trying to convey being misunderstood, which I think has since been cleared up.

        • Joe.02

          Yes. I think the downvotes here are an issue because you are being misunderstood.

  • expect_resistance

    I’m all for a plan C.

  • lady_black

    And I’m saying very plainly that early miscarriages are so common that nobody ever investigates them, nor would they. EVER. This is not the miscarriage of a 16 week fetus we’re discussing here. This would be done after the period was a few days late. No one would have any reason to know if they were pregnant, and the result would be a late, heavy period. Something that has happened to all of us at one time or another, and there would be no need of seeking medical attention. Why on earth would you? Women don’t see their doctors for such matters, and there would be nothing a doctor could do at that point anyway if you did go. Nobody is being prosecuted for early miscarriages. Nobody is even being investigated. I don’t care how hard they “try.” It cannot be done.

    • Shan

      I honestly hope this stays OFF the whackaloon legislation radar.

    • HeilMary1

      Every home, office, school and shopping mall toilet would have to have “baby flushing” detectors built in and with cameras to identify the “criminal aborters” — ALL women who get periods and flush “baby-positive” tampons!

  • CT14

    Won’t work.

    Anti-choice groups are all about the fertilized egg. They want to grant “personhood” status to a fertilized egg BEFORE it implants.

    They call regular birth control pills and EC “abortion” even though they are proven to work by preventing ovulation. EC isn’t in the woman’s system long enough to affect the uterine lining at all, so it CAN’T work by preventing implantation.

    Implantation is when a pregnancy begins. Plan C may well prevent implantation, but the anti-choicers will call it abortion and insist it kills “unborn people”.

    But as a medical option? Totally should be here and over the counter.