Jun 24, 2022 - Health

Abortion pill online orders expected to grow post Roe

Illustration of a hand cursor pointing at a bottle of prescription pills.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

More abortion pills are expected to be ordered online and delivered through the mail after Friday's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: Abortion care through telemedicine is expected to increase, but with Roe overturned, the prescribed drugs that terminate pregnancies are likely to become the next major point of contention between abortion rights activists and opponents of abortion rights, Axios’ Jacob Knutson reports.

  • The pills used to terminate a pregnancy — mifepristone and misoprostol — are FDA-approved for use in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and are frequently prescribed online and mailed to patients.
  • Lawmakers in at least 20 states have proposed restrictions or bans on the pills, per Pew's Stateline.

By the numbers: In 2020, the majority of U.S. abortions (54%) were medication abortions, up from 39% in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights.

Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday that states cannot ban mifepristone, a medication used to bring about an abortion.

Abortion access online with telemedicine

Context: The FDA “permanently” lifted long-standing restrictions on mifepristone in December 2021, allowing doctors to prescribe the medication online through telemedicine appointments and send the prescriptions to patients by mail.

Yes, but: Aid Access, founded by Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts in 2018, told Business Insider it is one of the “only places where you can get a consultation with a clinician and get pills mailed to all 50 states.”

  • Aid Access says on its website that pills arrive within days after an online consultation in these states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
  • For other states, Aid Access said it can take one to three weeks for pills to arrive from a “trustworthy pharmacy in India.”
  • Hey Jane, a virtual clinic offering telemedicine abortion care in six states, expects “abortion care via mailed medication will become the most viable form of access for most people moving forward.”

What they're saying: “Since the same time last year, we’re treating on average nine times more patients in a day — and the number of patients we saw in the second half of last year quadrupled,” Hey Jane CEO Kiki Freedman told Axios.

  • “Anecdotally, the past few months we’ve seen an increase in patients reporting that they’re coming to Hey Jane because of longer-than-expected appointment wait times, which suggests to us that bans in places like Texas are already having a ripple effect in so-called 'blue states,'” Freedman said.
  • "As access continues to get more restricted, we anticipate even greater influxes of patient-care requests," Cindy Adam, CEO of telehealth clinic Choix, told Business Insider.
  • “As our courts and legislatures try to shut down abortion access, we want people to know there are still ways to access pills by mail in all 50 states, as well as free medical and legal support to help people navigate the changing access landscape,” Elisa Wells, Plan C co-founder and co-director, said in a statement.

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