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A self-induced abortion (or self-induced miscarriage) is an abortion performed by the pregnant woman herself outside the recognized medical system. Although the term can include abortions induced through legal, over-the-counter medication, it also refers to efforts to terminate a pregnancy through alternative, often more dangerous means. Such practices are illegal in most jurisdictions—even where abortion itself is legal—and may present a grave threat to the life of a woman. An unsuccessful attempt to induce such an abortion can also cause lasting damage to the fetus. Currently this is fairly common where abortion is illegal or unavailable, but it does occur in developed countries as well. Self-induced abortion is easier to accomplish in the earliest stages of pregnancy (the first eight weeks from the last menstrual period).
There are a number of anecdotally recorded and disseminated methods of performing a self-induced abortion. Many of the following methods present significant danger (see below) to the life or health of the woman:
Dr. David Reuben's book Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) mentions that many African women use a carved wooden abortion stick to induce, which has often been handed down.
Attempts to insert hazardous objects into the uterus are particularly dangerous, as they can cause punctures leading to septicemia. Ingesting or douching with harmful substances can have poisonous results. Receiving blows to the abdomen, whether self-inflicted or at the hands of another, can damage organs. Furthermore, the less dangerous methods - physical exertion, abdominal massage, and ingestion of relatively harmless substances thought to induce miscarriage - are less effective, and may result in the fetus developing birth defects. However, abdominal massage abortion is traditionally practised in Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia 
The cheap prescription synthetic prostaglandin drug Misoprostol - used in the U.S. to treat gastric ulcers - is often used as an abortifacient in self-induced abortion in Latin American countries where legal abortions are unavailable, and its use has also been observed in immigrant populations in New York. Although proponents of this method deem it to be safer than those using insertion of objects or chemicals into the uterus, they also note that failure to effect an abortion by this method can lead to the child being born with serious birth defects. Furthermore, the drug causes a drastic drop in blood pressure, and women may haemmorhage as a result of misusing the drug for the purpose of abortion.
The practice of self-induced abortion by various means has long been recorded in the United States. Turn-of-the-20th-century birth control advocate Margaret Sanger wrote in her autobiography of a 1912 incident in which she was summoned to treat a woman who had nearly died from such an attempt.
A study concluded in 1968 determined that over 1.2 million illegal abortions were performed every year in the United States, a portion of which were performed by women acting alone. The study suggested that the number of women dying as a result of self-induced abortions exceeded those resulting from abortions performed by another person. A 1979 study noted that many women who required hospitalization following self-induced abortion attempts were admitted under the pretext of having had a miscarriage or spontaneous abortion.
Although Roe v. Wade made abortion more readily available throughout the U.S., it remains a crime in most jurisdictions for a woman to attempt to perform an abortion on herself. In May 2005, Gabriela Flores - a Mexican immigrant living in South Carolina - was charged under such a statute, which carried a maximum penalty of two years in prison. She had induced abortion by ingesting misoprostol, an ulcer medication with abortifacient potential. Mississippi classifies self-induced abortions as deaths which affect the public interest, requiring that physicians report them to the local medical examiner. By contrast, New Mexico's "Unborn Victims of Violence Act" exempts self-induced abortion from the criminal liability the act creates.