After 20 years in the U.S., medication abortion is finally widely accessible through telehealth. But a looming Supreme Court ruling could change all that.
BY RUTH READER
In April of this year, when some of Minnesota’s already few abortion clinics started to close because of the pandemic, a new organization popped up with a novel idea: It would bring abortion services to Minnesotans using a mobile clinic. Called Just The Pill, its goal was to connect the state’s most rural corners with medication abortion care, a two-pill regimen that can end a pregnancy.
In the past, it’s been hard for sexual health groups to get medication abortion to people in remote areas. The Food and Drug Administration restricts one of the medications, mifepristone, in several ways. Patients must take the pill at a clinic, for example. On top of that, states have their own rules that can further encumber access. However, the medical data overwhelmingly shows the abortion pill is safe, even to take at home alone. Health experts say politics—not data—are informing these rules.
by CARRIE N. BAKER
For years, pharmacies outside the U.S. have been shipping abortion pills to American women wanting to end their pregnancies. But now, for the first time, a U.S.-based pharmacy—Honeybee Health—is distributing abortion pills directly to patients within the country by mail, now legal because of a recent federal court ruling.
“This is a momentous achievement for Americans, particularly for women of color and others who historically faced barriers to reproductive healthcare that are made even worse by COVID-19,” said Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi, co-founder, co-CEO and lead pharmacist of Honeybee Health.
Both abortion advocates and opponents have used the COVID-19 crisis to further their policy goals.
Carrie N. Baker
Sep 21, 2020
The gendered dimensions of the political response to the COVID-19 crisis are manifesting clearly in efforts to close abortion clinics, as well as in campaigns led by doctors, lawyers, and reproductive rights advocates to expand access to telemedicine abortion during the pandemic and beyond.
Anti-abortion politicians in states across the country have used the COVID-19 pandemic to attempt to restrict abortion, arguing that abortion is not essential health care and that banning the procedure will conserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19 cases. In March and April of 2020, 12 states tried to restrict abortion, including Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia, among others. Legislators in Kentucky passed a bill to allow the state’s Attorney General to block abortion access during COVID-19, but the Kentucky governor vetoed the bill.
Coronavirus pandemic is fueling efforts to increase access to abortion pills
Marie McCullough - The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)
May 29, 2020
The pandemic is helping U.S. abortion-rights advocates achieve a long-standing goal: Make it easier for women to use pills to end pregnancies up to 10 weeks.
Federal and state regulations have restricted access to “medication abortion” ever since the Food and Drug Administration approved it two decades ago. Nonetheless, use of the two-drug regimen has grown steadily, accounting for at least 40% of all abortions, even as the national abortion rate has fallen to historic lows, data show.
Feminist Multi-Front Battle to End FDA’s Abortion Pill Restriction
by Carrie N. Baker
Feminists have been fighting a defensive battle to protect abortion rights for years—but today some are taking the offense, pushing to expand abortion access by calling for the removal of FDA restriction on the abortion pill mifepristone.
Formerly known as RU-486, mifepristone ends pregnancy by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone, which sustains pregnancy. Used in combination with another drug—misoprostol, which causes contractions to complete an abortion—mifepristone is extremely safe.
No-Test Medication Abortion Increases Safety and Access During COVID-19
A new study proposes an innovative, no-test medication abortion protocol that would enable clinicians to safely administer medication abortion to patients without any preliminary tests or in-person encounters
by Carrie N. Baker
Imagine a world where women could access safe and supported abortion health care without ever leaving their homes. In this world, after a phone call or video conference with a health care professional, women could receive the abortion pill in the mail, which they could take safely in the privacy of their own homes under the supervision of a clinician.
No invasive, time-consuming pelvic exams or blood tests. No state-mandated ultrasounds or waiting periods requiring multiple visits. No walking past lines of screaming anti-abortion protesters. No driving long distances, having to find and pay for child care, or taking time off from work. No exposure to COVID-19.
Amid Covid-19, a Call for M.D.s to Mail the Abortion Pill
For decades, the consensus has been that F.D.A. regulations require that the abortion pill be obtained in a clinic. But that’s changing.
By Patrick Adams
May 12, 2020
Last fall, months before America’s first outbreak of the coronavirus, Francine Coeytaux and Elisa Wells, co-founders of the abortion rights advocacy group Plan C, were reaching out to doctors with a question they said was urgent:
“Would you be willing to mail the ‘abortion pills’ to women in their homes?”
Buying pills online for an at-home abortion: a lockdown reality
Lucie AUBOURG, AFP News
9 May 2020
With the coronavirus crisis raging, women in the United States are increasingly going online to buy their own pills for a "self-managed" abortion
One week after Sally realized she was pregnant, her home state Texas temporarily banned abortions, deeming them unnecessary elective procedures that were suspended because of the coronavirus crisis.
Self-Managed Abortions May Be More Difficult to Access Right Now—Here’s What You Need to Know
With supply chain disruptions in India due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, medication abortion may be less accessible—an issue compounded by anti-choice state officials trying to ban the procedure and the FDA.
Apr 14, 2020
If you visit aidaccess.org in search of the abortion pill right now, you won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. Aid Access, a website that offers medication abortion pills by mail for people in the United States seeking to self-manage their abortion, has hit a snag in its supply chain, thanks to a halt in trade out of India because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Because of [COVID-19] the government of India have decided to close all international airports to prevent corona virus outbreak and therefor [sic] the pharmacy in India cannot send the medicines until further notice,” reads a disclosure on the Aid Access website’s consultation page.
The Pandemic Means More People May Be Giving Themselves Abortions
But the abortion pill sites people rely on are in jeopardy.
by Marie Solis
Apr 8 2020
The first time H* needed an abortion, she drove about two hours to the nearest clinic and back, waited 48 hours—the required waiting period for anyone in Tennessee seeking an abortion—then went back and paid more than $700 for the procedure. That’s not counting gas money for eight hours of driving, or the wages she lost when she took time off from her hourly job for the appointment.
In March, she learned she was pregnant again, and found herself confronting many of the same barriers to getting an abortion: The clinic was still far away, the procedure was still costly, and she would still have to take off a day or two to account for the waiting period and the drives to and from the clinic.