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A 20 year-old woman called Yaribely Almonte from New York State has been charged with self-abortion after her fetus was found in a trash container near her building. Law enforcement officers stated that the fetus was male, and that he was born dead. They added that they based the charge on Yaribely Almonte's own statements.

Self-abortion is illegal in New York State, where abortion after 24 weeks is not permitted unless there are serious medical reasons. The self-abortion charge is rare though, probably because those who induce miscarriages themselves generally do so much earlier in pregnancy and hide the facts. Even more importantly, safe abortions are legally available to women in the US.

That proved to be impossible in this case; the dead fetus was found in a trash container. The superintendent who found him described how he saw the baby as he tying up a garbage bag. He wanted to put a piece of plastic in the recycling bin, and when he moved it, he noticed something that horrified him: "When I found the baby, I didn t know if it was real at first. It was so bad. After that happened, I just stayed in my apartment for a while because I didn t feel well."

Press reports say that police are investigating whether Yaribely Almonte induced an abortion using herbs with abortive properties, and also noted that the woman is due back in court on January 3. Previous cases of self-abrtion in the first degree resulted in suspended sentences. Discarding a six-inch, 24-week old fetus is shocking to anyone this baby could have been born alive and even survived with intensive care if he had been born to a mother who went into preterm labor.

Still, experts have been discussing self-abortion and have commented on the practice in newspaper reports on this case. Apparently, the practice is not all that uncommon, especially now that medical abortion drugs such as misoprostol (see misoprostol and Cytotec) are available on the street illegally at low cost. Herbal abortions, meanwhile, have been practiced for centuries in almost every culture.

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