The pharmacy almost vanishes. It is only a gap in the wall, and does not belong to any of the big companies. Here you can buy the pill without a prescription for 70 quetzals equal to almost 9 dollars. It is a stiff price when 58 percent of the Guatemalans live below the poverty threshold. However, it is cheaper to buy a pill than it is to summon a midwife, doctor or quack, who offer their services through obscure advertisements in newspapers, on lampposts and on the internet.
The pill is separated from the package, and sold one by one. One pill usually does the trick. When the woman comes home she inserts pill into the vagina and then she waits. If the pill was used correctly, the abortion will normally be completed after a few hours.
In many countries the pill, a misoprostol called Cytotec, is used legally in medical abortion up to the twelfth week of the pregnancy. The legal method differs from the one in Guatemala, because Cytotec is used in combination with another drug, Mifepristone. In the legal model the woman takes Mifepristone orally. This drug interrupts the pregnancy and causes a rejection of the fetus. Then, the woman takes Cytotec, which creates contractions of the uterus, and this makes the remains of the fetus disappear.
According to Norwegian gynecologists the combined method is the best, because it creates a fast and clean abortion. It does not leave remains that may cause infections, which again can lead to disease, infertility and, in some cases, death. With the exception of Mexico, Mifepristone is not available in Latin-America. Cytotec, on the other hand, is sold everywhere.
Many believe Cytotec represents an effective, safe and inexpensive way to preform an illegal abortion. In Latin-America, the pill has become very popular over the last two decades. The use of Cytotec has created a decline in other and more risky abortion methods. The method is applauded by scientists and abortion rights-activists all over the world.
But the medal has a flip side. Attachments and information rarely come with the purchase of the pill. Information about how much to take, how to use the pill properly and in which weeks of pregnancy you can use Cytotec, is missing. Some activist groups informs about the proper use on the internet, but that does not help a woman who can not read, or does not have access to the internet. In Guatemala only one of three doctors are familiar with the correct use of Cytotec.