Alone, it is routinely used off-label for obstetrical and gynecological procedures such as cervical ripening, labor induction and mid-trimester terminations. Sometimes, as in Kelly's case, it is used to induce a miscarriage in an early pregnancy, typically up to nine weeks, but can be used through the second trimester.
In the U.S., only 1 in 8 women elects a medical abortion.
In combination, the two drugs are 95 to 97 percent effective; taken alone, misoprostol is only 80 to 85 percent effective, and is suspected of causing birth defects if it fails.
After care is critical to ensure the pregnancy tissue is expelled to prevent infection. Doctors also recommend that women live within two hours of a hospital.
Stacie E. Geller, director of the National Center of Excellence in Women's Health, at University of Illinois, said misoprostol is a "wonder drug" that has cut childbirth deaths by 50 percent in countries like India.
"Women all over the world have been getting their hands on misoprostol and have been using it for years," she said.
When used for abortion, it is only slightly less effective, but there needs to be adequate medical follow-up, even used in combination with RU486.
"Having a medical or surgical abortion has fewer risks and lower mortality rates than a pregnancy, so we have to put that in perspective," said Geller.
Women turn to do-it-yourself methods for multiple reasons -- distrust of doctors, cultural shame and even lack of transportation to health clinics -- but the underlying factor is cost in a population that is largely uninsured.
About 38 percent of all Hispanics are uninsured -- 57 percent in the reproductive age, according to NLIRH. Even those who have insurance say out-of-pocket costs for birth control are prohibitive.
Jersey Garcia, a Dominican-American from Miami, has two children, and even though she and her husband have a combined income of $75,000, they struggle to pay for birth control.
"I had a baby three months ago and it was a planned pregnancy," said Garcia, 34, "Now, I don't want to get pregnant and I am trying to get insurance to pay for my birth control and I can't afford it."
She can't take birth control pills, which carry a co-pay of $40 a month, and wants to get an IUD (intrauterine device), which will cost $800 out of pocket. Now, she spends $20 a month on condoms, which are not reimbursed.
"To some people that might not seem like a lot, but when you have to pay the mortgage, food, day care, transportation and insurance, it is," she said. "We can't add another expense to the monthly budget."
"We are trying to live the American dream and be responsible and pay our bills and to plan our pregnancies and take care of our families," said Garcia.
Without access to birth control, abortions will be inevitable, according to Garcia, who advocates full-time for Latinas.
Even she had a close family member who ended up in an emergency room, hemorrhaging after taking misoprostol with a friend. "She nearly lost her life," said Garcia.
Gonzalez-Roja said the issue transcends the politics of abortion.
"There is a perception that Latinas are not pro choice, and many women we work with have different feelings about abortion, but we all agree about access," said Jessica Gonzales-Roja. "It shouldn't be restricted. We have all seen friends die in underground abortions. We know the reality of what happens when abortions are not legal."