With the Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the fight for access to the abortion pill has become a matter of life and death.
by CARRIE N. BAKER
Twenty-one years ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the abortion pill mifepristone for distribution in the United States. As states are now passing laws to ban abortion and the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the abortion pill is what will make a post-Roe world very different from the pre-Roe world, when thousands of women died each year from illegal abortions, and many more were left permanently harmed by unsafe and illegal abortions.
Abortion pills are safe and effective, widely accessible online and easy to use. A grassroots movement led by the organization Plan C is now working to ensure that women across the country know how to get abortion pills and how to use them.
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.
It’s been impossible to get an abortion on the island since 2018, and the closest legal clinic is in Hawaiʻi
Michelle Broder Van Dyke in Honolulu
Wed 10 Mar 2021
Guam has taken a significant step toward restoring abortion access, after the ACLU scored a victory in a lawsuit that seeks to ensure residents of the US territory can turn to remote healthcare providers for abortion medication.
Getting an abortion on Guam has been impossible since 2018, when the last abortion doctor retired and moved off the island. Before then, at least 200 abortions occurred on Guam every year. Today, accessing the closest legal abortion clinic requires a flight to Hawaiʻi, an expensive and difficult undertaking especially during a pandemic.
The ACLU is suing the US territory over restrictive laws that block people from accessing telemedicine medication abortions
Michelle Broder Van Dyke in Honolulu
Mon 22 Feb 2021
Getting an abortion on Guam, a remote US territory in the Pacific Ocean, has never been simple. Before 2016 there were only two abortion doctors on the entire island, and anti-abortion protesters would often stand outside their clinics with signs.
But since 2018, it has been impossible. That year Guam lost its last abortion provider when Dr William Freeman retired and moved away, and the doctor who took over refused to conduct them. This means that the closest US abortion clinic is now in Hawaiʻi, an eight-hour and $1,000 flight away. The number of abortions on Guam dropped from more than 200 a year in 2017 to zero.
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.
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.
Changes to medical technology will change the politics of the country’s original culture war
Sep 19th 2020 edition
When women used to tell Susan Long (not her real name), a doctor in Washington state, that they wanted to terminate a pregnancy, she would refer them to an abortion clinic. Today, they need not even walk into her office: after an online consultation, she prescribes two pills, which she posts, along with instructions on how to take them several hours apart.
It is difficult to exaggerate the benefit for “innumerable” women of being able to have an abortion at home, without having to arrange a trip to a clinic, she says, describing some of them. The university student living with her conservative parents, hundreds of miles from the nearest abortion clinic. The woman whose violent husband is vehemently pro-life. Single mothers, strapped for cash and child care. Those whose frail health prevents them risking exposure to covid-19 at a doctor’s office.
Medication Abortion and Telemedicine: Innovations and Barriers During the COVID-19 Emergency
Amrutha Ramaswamy, Gabriela Weigel, Laurie Sobel
Jun 08, 2020
State actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis have highlighted their divergent approaches to abortion access. Some states classified abortion as a non-essential service, effectively banning services, while others have clarified that abortion is an essential service. In a handful of states, some clinics have begun to offer medication abortions using telemedicine. This approach maintains access to abortion while social distancing, preserving personal protective equipment (PPE), and limiting in-person health care visits and risk of exposure.
In 2017, 39% of all abortions in the U.S. were medication abortions (also known as abortions induced by pills). These abortions are provided using two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol. While public knowledge about medication abortion is very low, even fewer people may be aware that telemedicine can aid in the provision of this service. Research shows that providing medication abortion by telemedicine is clinically feasible and safe, but COVID-19 has highlighted the impact of new and existing federal and state restrictions on providing abortions using this approach.
Telemedicine Abortion Gains Momentum During Pandemic
— But FDA regulations on mifepristone still limit access
by Amanda D'Ambrosio, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
June 2, 2020
As access to in-person abortion clinics dwindled during the COVID-19 pandemic, providers have seen increased demand and awareness of another method of abortion care: telemedicine.
Melissa Grant, chief operating officer of carafem, a national abortion and birth control clinic, said that "there's definitely been a marked increase" in telemedicine abortions since stay-at-home orders were put in place.
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.