Some Worry Underground Abortions Are Still a Reality

"The most common way is that women take herbs that are poisonous and take enough to poison the baby, but not themselves," said Weed. "This is not easy to do. Unless the woman is sick enough to be throwing up and in serious pain, it's not going to work."

Other herbs, like blue cohosh, act in the same way as misoprostol by starting uterine contractions.

Low Dog said that although blue cohosh is less likely to cause fetal abnormalities if the pregnancy doesn't terminate, the herb will make women sick.

"I had a woman come in with spotting, bleeding and she was throwing up. She was really sick," said Low Dog.

Upon greater investigation, she found that the woman had been taking blue cohosh.

"The pregnancy didn't terminate," Low Dog said.

Grossman expects the Ibis Reproductive Health study will find a common root to the underground abortions -- whether it's off-label, under the table or out of the backyard.

"We want to find what some of the barriers [to reproductive health] are," said Grossman. "I think that's really what this issue is all about."

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