May 11, 2023 - News

Volunteers supply morning-after pills around town

A Stix pregnancy test and two emergency contraceptives in the bathroom of an undisclosed Austin-area coffee shop. Photo: Courtesy of Stix.

Customers in some Austin-area businesses can find emergency contraceptives on bathroom countertops, part of an effort to expand access to the morning-after pill while abortion remains illegal in Texas and the fate of abortion-inducing drugs remains up in the air.

Driving the news: In response to an April federal court decision, which is no longer in effect but would increase restrictions on abortion-inducing drugs, reproductive health brand Stix recently announced it would donate its emergency contraceptives to local activist groups distributing supplies across Austin.

  • The morning-after pill — available without a prescription to reduce the chance of pregnancy after unprotected sex — remains legal in Texas.
  • But Stix co-founder and CEO Jamie Norwood said many residents in states where abortion is banned are not aware of that distinction.

Zoom in: Stix's Restart Donation Bank Program sent its emergency contraceptive pill, Restart, and pregnancy tests to nonprofits and groups across Texas, including the Bridge Collective and Jane's Due Process in Central Texas.

  • Bridge Collective volunteers deliver pregnancy tests and emergency contraception, including Stix Restart and Plan B, to churches and businesses, including coffee shops and a gym, directly to Central Texans who request a free reproductive health kit.
  • Stix and Bridge Collective declined to disclose the names of participating Austin-area businesses because of security concerns.

By the numbers: Bridge Collective's small team of volunteers donated 1,000 reproductive health kits through their drop-off sites and deliveries last year, according to Bridge Collective member Amanda Bennett.

What they're saying: Stix launched Restart last June, packaged in sleek, colorful boxes that the founders said would minimize the stigma around buying emergency contraception.

  • "We went on to redevelop, relaunch products that are kind of infamously hard to buy, kind of cringy," like yeast infection and UTI products, Norwood said. "There's so much misinformation about the morning-after pill. … We were so interested in creating a morning-after pill that was explicitly clear, nonjudgmental and easy to get."

Yes, but: Morning-after pills do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and are most effective when taken within three days after unprotected sex.

Of note: Austin Women's Health Center is the only abortion clinic in Austin that remains open, providing medication abortion for Texans who meet the limited exceptions to the state's ban on the procedure.

  • The Bridge Collective stresses its kits are intended for those in need and recommends that anyone seeking morning-after pills for storage should request a kit through

What's next: The U.S. Supreme Court ruling last June, which overturned Roe v. Wade, made clear that access to contraceptives remains legal, but Justice Clarence Thomas welcomed challenges in a concurring opinion.

  • Proposed bills in the Texas Legislature that would limit morning-after pills have so far not gained any traction in either chamber.
  • Stix announced earlier this month that it would place billboards and ads in college towns to spread awareness that the morning-after pill is still legal and can be delivered discreetly for free. Those efforts will start in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Tampa, Florida.

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