The Abortion Pill Underground

Since Roe was overturned, thousands of people in red states have found a way to get an abortion—often thanks to providers operating at the edge of the law.

May 7, 2024

When Kay found out she was pregnant at the end of last year, she knew three things clearly. “I was poor and I had an unwanted pregnancy and knew I couldn’t afford a standard abortion for hundreds of dollars,” she told me. A 29-year-old student already raising one child, Kay lives in Texas, where abortion is banned. The nearest clinic she could find was at least a 12-hour drive away. But Kay thought there might be another option. “I went to Google and started searching if it was possible somehow to receive abortion pills through the Internet.”

It was not only possible; it was much easier and more affordable than Kay had expected. She found online services that offered to ship the same medications that were available in clinics right to her doorstep in Texas for $150 or, if she couldn’t afford that, for free. It seemed so simple that Kay thought it might be a scam. “I was scared I would wait for the pills and they wouldn’t work when I got them,” she said.


“Abortionist”: The Label That Turns Healthcare Workers Into Criminals

The moniker has branded those who help terminate pregnancies as illegitimate, dangerous, and, in turn, allowable targets of violence.

May/June 2024 issue (posted April 15)

In 2007, after Paul Ross Evans pleaded guilty to leaving a bomb outside of a women’s health clinic in Austin, he assured the judge: He never meant for anyone to get hurt. “Except,” he clarified, “for the abortionists.”

For almost two centuries, the moniker “abortionist” has branded those who help terminate pregnancies as illegitimate, dangerous, and, in turn, allowable targets of violence. Before Roe v. Wade, the label turned midwives and doctors into criminals to be cracked down on by the state. After the 1973 decision, right-wing movements continued to deploy the term to imply only back-alley doctors performed abortions.

USA – The Current Attack on Abortion Pills Will Fail. The Next One Will Be So Much Worse.

MARCH 26, 2024

There are always a couple of tells when the most conservative Supreme Court in more than a century finds itself adjudicating a truly mortifying and meritless case. One is that it’s coming up by way of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, a court that so consistently shovels its worst constitutional garbage upward that the high court conservatives are often forced to reluctantly lob it back. Another tell is when the facts of the case are so laugh-out-loud insane that even conservative justices can’t bring themselves to adopt them or the underpinning legal reasoning with a straight face. There’s yet a third tell: when the conservative justices start injecting a bunch of nonsense and randomized pet peeves into oral argument to distract from how embarrassing it would be to discuss the merits of the actual case.


USA – The Anti-Abortion Movement’s Biggest Fear

MARCH 25, 2024

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, a case that could determine national access to mifepristone, one of two pills used as part of medication abortion. In this week’s episode of Amicus, Dahlia Lithwick spoke with Carrie N. Baker, whose book, History and Politics of Abortion Pills in the United States, is being published by Amherst College Press this year.

Lithwick and Baker discussed the anti-abortion movement’s decadeslong efforts to target the abortion pill, how those efforts hampered FDA approval of the medication in the first place, and how having easier access to reproductive care through a pill that can be sent in the mail and taken at home fundamentally threatens the strategy of those seeking to dismantle abortion rights in this country. The following transcript has been edited for length and clarity.


USA – How the abortion pill case at the supreme court could undo the FDA

The medical industry watches with trepidation as mifepristone case could have huge consequences for drug regulation

Jessica Glenza in New York
Mon 25 Mar 2024

A supreme court case about one little pill – mifepristone – has the medical and pharmaceutical world on edge. … Despite a more than 20-year track record of safe real-world use, backed up by more than 100 peer-reviewed studies, a group of anti-abortion doctors is seeking to roll back US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decisions that changed and relaxed some prescribing rules.

If the doctors succeed, despite contested and in some cases now-retracted evidence of harm, the case could reshape abortion access in the US and have enormous and unpredictable consequences for how drugs are prescribed, regulated and developed.


USA – Abortion influences everything

By inhibiting drug development, economic growth, and military recruitment, as well as driving doctors away from the places they’re needed most, bans almost certainly harm you — yes, you.

By Keren Landman, MD
Mar 20, 2024

Last year in Texas, federal Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that, based on his read of some very bad science, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needed to withdraw its approval of the safe and widely used abortion drug mifepristone. He claimed that the FDA hadn’t adequately considered its safety (it had) and that the lack of restrictions on the drug (there were plenty) had led to many deaths and severe adverse events (demonstrably false).

… Restricting abortion means removing women’s control over not only their bodies, but also their futures — and giving that control to someone else. In a nation where sex education and contraception access are already spotty and about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, that act is a population-level assault on women’s autonomy. The result is a psychic wound even to those who aren’t seeking abortions.


USA – Yes, some medication abortion patients go to the ER — but it may not be for what you think

A small portion of patients do visit ERs after an abortion, but it's not because mifepristone is unsafe

MARCH 20, 2024

Next Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will finally hear a case about mifepristone — the first drug used in a medication abortion.

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine — an organization of anti-abortion activists backed by the Christian right-wing lobbying group Alliance Defending Freedom — could severely limit access to mifepristone across the country. As women’s health specialists and doctors have told Salon before, the effects of such restrictions will be "devastating,” and have far-reaching consequences beyond impacting reproductive health.


The Zombie Law Trump Wants to Use to Ban Abortion Nationwide

Members of the former president’s inner circle are worried that he’ll blab about their plan to gut what remains of our reproductive freedoms.

Melissa Gira Grant
February 20, 2024

Donald Trump’s lawyer really, really hopes that Donald Trump doesn’t blow up their plan to ban abortion nationally by talking about it publicly before the election—at least according to the aforementioned Trump lawyer, speaking to The New York Times. Why Jonathan Mitchell, the conservative attorney from Texas, would boast in a national newspaper about a plan that he also supposedly hopes doesn’t become a campaign issue is unclear. Why he is using an open media channel to muse about what his client may or may not know is equally strange and confusing. But the headline here seems to be “Donald Trump backs a national abortion ban,” though possibly for reasons of which he’s yet to be apprised.


Anti-Abortion Republicans Want Comstock Laws to be their Secret Weapon in 2024

In this op-ed, Rachael Klarman and Will Dobbs-Allsopp of Governing for Impact explain the threat posed to abortion rights by a little-known 19th century law, the Comstock Act.

FEBRUARY 7, 2024

The 2024 presidential election is officially underway, yet the race’s gravest stake has received alarmingly little attention: Prominent conservatives have a plan for the next anti-choice president to ban abortion nationwide without an act of Congress—and it may well succeed.

Their secret weapon is the long-dormant Comstock Act, a 19th century law still on the books, which states that to ship, carry, or receive “any drug, medicine, article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for producing abortion” would be a federal crime. If your eyes are blinking in disbelief, we felt similarly when we first read the statute — though organizers and writers have been trying to draw attention to the threat for the past several months. Given the riotous state of American abortion politics, how can nationwide restrictions potentially already exist in federal law, yet receive so little mainstream attention?


The Abortion Pill Might Just Stand a Chance at the Supreme Court

In a sign that its recent regard for restraint is prevailing, the Roberts court is signaling that it’ll take a narrow approach on mifepristone.

Matt Ford
December 14, 2023

The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it would take up its first abortion-related case since overturning Roe v. Wade last year. Abortion rights groups could not have asked for a better start to it.

In its latest batch of orders, the court said it would take up FDA v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine and Danco Laboratories v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine. The consolidated appeals, which all stem from the same original lawsuit, seek to overturn a federal court’s ruling in Texas that, if allowed to take effect, would overturn recent Food and Drug Administration rule changes that made the most widely used abortion pill easier to prescribe and obtain.