Garnet Henderson, Truthout
November 26, 2022
In 2020, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must suspend its requirement that patients pick up mifepristone, one of the pills used in medication abortion, in person. After some back-and-forth under the Trump administration, the FDA permanently repealed the rule, which had long been decried by medical experts as unnecessary, in 2021.
This opened the door for providers to send abortion pills by mail in all but the 19 states that outlaw provision of abortion via telemedicine. (Many of those same states now ban abortion entirely.) This regulation change, along with increased popular interest in abortion access following Roe’s overturn, has led to a proliferation of telemedicine companies offering abortion pills. Some of these companies are run by people with prior experience in abortion care and connections in the reproductive health, rights and justice movements; others are not. Regardless, some abortion access advocates are raising concerns about whether the rise of for-profit telemedicine companies is the best way to serve abortion seekers.
A colorful crowd of doctors, researchers and women’s activists convened in the Latvian capital to explore ways to use pills to circumvent anti-abortion laws.
By EMILY SCHULTHEIS
RIGA, Latvia — For two sunny, crisp autumn days in mid-September, Riga’s Stradiņš University felt like the epicenter of a self-styled global civil rights movement: to give every person, in every culture or country, regardless of laws, access to abortion pills.
In the hallways, women pored over posters showing the latest research on the effectiveness of abortion pills and other developments in abortion and contraception care. Representatives from pharmaceutical companies enthusiastically pitched their medications and products to doctors sipping coffee and tea during a break between panels. There were graphic novels about an at-home medical abortion and T-shirts printed with women’s self-stated reasons for ending a pregnancy; there were slogans printed on T-shirts like “Make Abortion Legal Again” and a video promoting abortion rights to the tune of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
A new president could reverse an FDA rule change that made it possible.
By RUTH READER
Doctors at online and brick and mortar primary care companies are slowly starting to prescribe medication abortion pills via telemedicine in states where it’s still legal following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision ending the constitutional right to the procedure.
The FDA has yet to update its rules to make way for large retail pharmacies to dispense medication abortion, limiting how patients can get pills. In the meantime, these companies are leaning on two mail-order pharmacies to fill their prescriptions.
New avenues are emerging, but logistical hassles are everywhere
By RUTH READER and BEN LEONARD
July 11, 2022
Demand for pills that end pregnancy has skyrocketed in states that have restricted abortion since the Supreme Court decision last month, and abortion clinics are reporting a rush for appointments in towns bordering those states.
Aid Access, a virtual abortion clinic based in the Netherlands, saw a 256 percent increase in people coming to its site in the 24 hours after the court’s June 24 decision.
BY ABIGAIL ABRAMS AND JAMIE DUCHARME
MAY 31, 2022
If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade this summer, as a leaked draft opinion suggests it may, abortion will likely be banned or severely restricted in about half of the United States. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the country will return to a world before 1973, when the landmark Supreme Court case enshrined a constitutional right to abortion.
Abortion pills, which can be ordered online and delivered by mail, have already fundamentally changed reproductive rights in America. The regimen of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, can in theory be safely taken anywhere, including in the privacy of people’s homes, eliminating the need to undergo a procedure, travel out of state, take time off work, or confront protestors outside of a clinic. In part because of this convenience, abortion pills—also known as medication abortion—are now the most common method of ending a pregnancy in the U.S.
What will the future of abortion in America look like?
By Jessica Bruder
APRIL 4, 2022
One bright afternoon in early January, on a beach in Southern California, a young woman spread what looked like a very strange picnic across an orange polka-dot towel: A mason jar. A rubber stopper with two holes. A syringe without a needle. A coil of aquarium tubing and a one-way valve. A plastic speculum. Several individually wrapped sterile cannulas—thin tubes designed to be inserted into the body—which resembled long soda straws. And, finally, a three-dimensional scale model of the female reproductive system.
The two of us were sitting on the sand. The woman, whom I’ll call Ellie, had suggested that we meet at the beach; she had recently recovered from COVID-19, and proposed the open-air setting for my safety. She also didn’t want to risk revealing where she lives—and asked me to withhold her name—because of concerns about harassment or violence from anti-abortion extremists.
Oct. 13, 2021
By Patrick Adams
In 2018, the Austria-based nonprofit Aid Access began offering Americans a new service: For the first time, pregnant people could obtain abortion pills by mail, with a prescription from a licensed physician, without ever visiting a clinic. For years, the group’s founder, Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, had been doing similar work overseas. But as abortion rights were steadily eroded by Republican-controlled legislatures, Dr. Gomperts found herself inundated with requests from the United States and decided to act.
Three years later, American abortion rights are more threatened than ever, with the fate of Roe v. Wade resting on several Supreme Court justices appointed by Donald Trump. In response, Aid Access has introduced a service that offers a possible path forward for doctors adapting to the changing abortion landscape and reckoning with their role in gate-keeping a politically fraught drug: prescribing abortion pills in advance, to be kept on hand in the event of a future unwanted pregnancy.
Driven underground during the pandemic, online abortion providers say they’ll keep supplying pills and services even if the Supreme Court approves state bans.
By DARIUS TAHIR
The Supreme Court’s decision to review Mississippi’s stringent restrictions on abortion — putting Roe vs. Wade under its roughest stress test yet — is being seen as a call to action for the nation’s community of underground abortion activists.
And they make it clear they’re prepared to defy any laws banning abortion.
The FDA’s announcement that it will permit abortion medication to be sent by mail is a start—but advocates are hoping for more.
By Amy Littlefield
Apr 27, 2021
The Biden administration’s announcement this month that it would allow mifepristone to be sent by mail revolutionized access to abortion—in about half the country. Elsewhere, state laws requiring patients to meet with a provider in person preempt the new policy, underscoring just how much a person’s options depend on where they live.
“I think it’s great for states that it will impact,” Laurie Bertram Roberts, who cofounded the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund and now leads the Yellowhammer Fund in Alabama, said with a wry laugh. “Neither of the states that I work in are one of those.”
by CARRIE N. BAKER
Last Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued long-awaited guidance lifting a restriction on the abortion pill mifepristone for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The move permits telemedicine abortion, a combination of medication abortion—using pills to end a pregnancy—and telemedicine, which allows health providers to supervise the use of abortion pills via videoconferencing or telephone consultations.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting FDA commissioner, wrote in a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine that the FDA will waive a requirement that clinicians dispense the abortion pill mifepristone to their patients in a clinic or hospital setting. The letter said research studies on telemedicine abortion “do not appear to show increases in serious safety concerns occurring with medical abortion as a result of modifying the in-person dispensing requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic.”