A home abortion remedy?
It might sound strange, but its true, this remedy has been passed around the feminist community since the 70's, appearing in many grassroots publications, some of which are cited here. There are also numerous reports of women using it successfully from this era, I've heard many stories, but never saw any kind of documentation, which isn't surprising in a time, where a woman's right to choose an abortion and have access to safe legal abortion services was just being won.
The origin of this remedy stems in part from a scientific article that was published in the mid-60's by a Russian scientist, E.P. Samborskaia.1 The article is in Russian, and finding a copy was a problem... as was the language barrier. I had been corresponding with a lady from Slovak Republic (Slovakia) and mentioned the article. She went out looking for it, and was able to find a copy. She was able to translate it for me, and noted that the author did not specify the doses of ascorbic acid administered to the women, and the author also did not say specify how the women received the ascorbic acid; ie, liquid, injection, tablet.
The scientists who conducted the research, Samborskaia and Ferdman came to the conclusion that high doses of Ascorbic Acid appeared to increase estrogen levels which contributed to the interruption of an otherwise normal pregnancy. 20 women who approached doctors requesting an abortion participated in the study. Research was conducted by ob/gyn L.I. Ivanyuta. The women ranged from 20 to 40 years of age. The article does not say if a positive pregnancy test was obtained from the participating women. We also don't know how much ascorbic acid the women were given. They did however measure estrogen levels before and after treatment with ascorbic acid, finding that estrogen levels were higher after taking the ascorbic acid. Of the 20 women, 16 began menstrual type bleeding within 1 to 3 days from administration of ascorbic acid.
Even if these women were not pregnant, there is evidence to support that this remedy does in fact work. Much of Samborskaia's research supporting ascorbic acid's ability has been done on laboratory animals where pregnancy was confirmed, and the ascorbic acid was shown to be responsible for the interruption of pregnancy in these animals.2 Also, in my own personal research, I've come into contact with numerous women who did confirm their pregnancies with a test, then used ascorbic acid (sometimes in conjunction with other herbs) to terminate those pregnancies successfully. Many of them have been kind enough to share their experience not only with me, but with the rest of the world by allowing me to put their comments online in the Sharing our Wisdom section of my website. As I have collected this data, I eventually created a database to make use of all these bits of information, in other areas of my website, you can find some statistical information from my database. While it can't be considered scientific data, it is none-the-less proof that these home remedies do work for some women. However it is impossible to say who these remedies will work for and for who they will not.
It is said that on average 1 in every 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. This would be 25% of all pregnancies. Statistics vary somewhat, and age is a factor, some say as few as 16% up to as much as 30% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. A government website says 50% of all fertilized eggs die or are lost spontaneously - usually prior to the woman knowing she is pregnant, many of which do not implant in the uterine wall. In known pregnancies, they say that about 10% miscarry naturally and this normally happens between the 7th and 12th week of pregnancy.3, 4, 5 With this in mind, observations from my own research and data collection, about 45% of women with confirmed pregnancies are successful when using vitamin c (ascorbic acid) with the intention to end a pregnancy at home. This is well above the estimated rate of natural miscarriages (non-induced), so even if some of these women would of miscarried on their own without the steps they took to induce miscarriage at home (10% of known pregnancies miscarrying naturally or 1 in 4 pregnancies (known or unknown) ending naturally) these figures do not account for the increased rate of spontaneous abortion that I'm seeing through the data these women voluntarily provide.
First the Reality Check - These remedies have less than a 50% chance of being successful6 even in the best of circumstances and when everything is done "right". In reality, the percentage is probably somewhere between 30% and 40%, because I don't hear from everyone who tries these remedies. If these remedies are attempted, and they do not work, it is important to follow through with terminating the pregnancy, even if it means a clinical abortion.
In my opinion, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the less toxic choices of the herbs available for terminating pregnancy, and seems to be fairly effective when compared with other herbs used for the same purpose. Don't misunderstand less toxic to mean that Vitamin C is not without risks. Natural or do-it-yourself does NOT mean that it is SAFE. The risks remain the same in regards to how far along the pregnancy has progressed, which determines your risk of incomplete abortion and hemorrhage.
The published USDA monograph for Vitamin C mentions that vitamin C is not teratogenic, however the dosage ranges they are looking at are considerably less than what we are discussing here. I am not comfortable saying that it would be ok to continue a pregnancy after these kinds of quantities of vitamin C are ingested during the weeks that an embryo is most susceptible to damage, regardless of what the USDA states. There are just too many unknowns and I wouldn't want anyone to take the risk of having a messed up kid if they are unsuccessful. Plus no research of this nature has been conducted that I am aware of. Its not worth the risk. If you are unsure that you will be able to follow up with a clinical abortion, please refer to the section on stimulating miscarriage without the use of Vitamins or herbs.
Vitamin C works to produce an unfavorable climate within the uterus so that the egg does not implant, or if implantation has already occurred, Vitamin C can weaken the fertilized ovum's grip on the uterine wall. Possibly by stimulating estrogen, and interfering with progesterone. This also makes it useful as an emergency contraceptive, when taken before implantation occurs on the 6th day following ovulation. The hormone, progesterone is essential for pregnancy, its function is to prepare a nourishing bed for the fertilized egg, if there is not enough progesterone the uterus becomes less supportive to the egg. Which is desirable when the goal is to end pregnancy.
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This page was created January 18, 2001
and last updated December 22, 2007