Let's say you're under 18, pregnant, and unable to get an abortion without parental consent, as is the case in 24 states. The logical thing to do would be to ... swallow some cow meds from a nearby farm? Sounds nuts, but that's what some young women are doing in an attempt to perform DIY abortions.
Anna Anderson, executive director of the Monroe, Wisconsin-based Care Net Pregnancy Center, which counsels women on alternatives to abortion, was the first to report the practice, when an acquaintance called to discuss a teen who'd downed the meds. "When the girl finally came in and admitted it, she started rattling off the names of 10 other girls who had also done it," says Anderson, who recognized some of the names because the girls had come to the center for pregnancy tests. (The Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association points out that these cases have not been validated by health officials.)
The cow medicine—a liquid that's usually given as a shot to abort calves or regulate breeding cycles—works by essentially starving the fetus. After a few days, a woman would experience cramping, and the fetus would be expelled. Complications could include excessive hemorrhaging and a systemic infection.
In the era of abortion doctors like George Tiller being murdered, perhaps extreme behavior is to be expected. That said, here's hoping the human use of cow meds dies out, now that the FDA has approved Plan B—the morning-after pill—for use without a prescription by 17-year-olds. For more on the national debate over abortion, turn the page.