How have women throughout the world & through history managed fertility?
What are the benefits, risks, and costs of different abortion methods?
What if everyone knew how to perform an abortion?
Art, Medicine, Self-Determination
how to perform an abortion is a learning and art project that demystifies the historical, biological and ethical controversies surrounding fertility management.
Connecting women with information and network to help manage fertility, while subverting the forces that challenge their right to do so, how to perform an abortion is enacted through gardens, workshops, and kits. Our goal is to activate a shift in culture and law in favor of reproductive self-determination.
The plants, medicines, and methods used to induce abortions have varied tremendously over our 200,000 history as a species. People have always used what is available to them; techniques developed within and alongside ecological and cultural conditions. Comprised of ten plants with abortifacient potential, our gardens differ from one region to another depending on existing knowledge, climate, and local culture. They can be cultivated in a great variety of sites, from farms to fire escapes and can be planted anywhere in the world. We have found that when we grow our understanding of how these plants behave and interact with and within the ecosystem, we gain insight into how the plants may interact with our bodies.
We partner with individuals and institutions interested in planting and stewarding a garden to create an in-person workshop that covers a range of topics related to women's fertility care. Conversations about many different abortion methods, both plant-based and medical, are enriched by the expertise of an herbalist, a gynecologist, and a lawyer. Hands-on workshops are presented using the oral and empirical traditions through which much of this knowledge was developed and transmitted over time.
If you are interested in bringing a workshop to your community, please be in touch.
Each workshop participant receives a kit, which includes seeds for the plants that can be used for fertility management, a seed-starter-planter and related readings. Kits do not include instructions for terminating abortions, rather they include resources to help women reclaim power and autonomy over their reproductive health choices. To share your own remedy for inducing an abortion and to help us assemble more place-based kits for other regions, please reach out to us.
Over the course of human history, a great variety of abortion ideologies and methods developed in tandem with particular ecological and cultural conditions. Whether met with strong opposition, acceptance, or neutrality, abortion has been understood and implemented in many ways.
An Ancient Egyptian papyrus from 1550 BC documents the use of certain herbs as abortifacients. This plant-based practice continues in many locations around the globe, and was a feature of American society until the mid-19th Century when much of this knowledge was forced underground. This loss of expertise resulted in a dramatic power-shift as male-dominated medical institutions became the exclusive gatekeepers for abortion access, with communities of women healers relegated to society’s fringes.
It is our responsibility to reclaim this knowledge, and share it with one another. We must help each other learn about and obtain the safest, most effective, and ethically aligned reproductive health care. We hope that this knowledge, and the networks that emerge, will strengthen us and make us more resilient as we continue to take control over our fertility and our bodies.
Disclaimer & Warning
Attempting an herbal or plant-based abortion is NOT for those who are new to herbalism. To obtain information about safe and effective pregnancy termination, contact Women on Web, Planned Parenthood, or your trusted herbalist, midwife or wise woman. Do not engage in herbal medicine without educating yourself and consulting with multiple people you trust. Some abortifacient plants can be dangerous, and deadly, when used incorrectly.