We Heart: The Animated History of Abortion Pills

Abortion is health care.

For medical professionals and much of the country, this is not a new story—they agree that abortion is a fact of life and a choice for anyone on their own reproductive journey. But so many people across the country believe an opposing story.

Both of these realities have become political: in 2019, 58 new laws were introduced to limit access to abortion, along with 36 new laws to protect it. But over the past three decades, as this divide grew, a new technology emerged. It’s now possible to order abortion pills online, which has enabled people in the U.S. to self-manage early abortions outside of a conventional clinic or doctor’s office. With abortion pills, individuals have been able to sidestep the debate altogether—and they’ve become empowered to manage their own health care. 

This is a story not everyone knows, but it’s one worth sharing. Just as the Internet has democratized platforms for diverse viewpoints to flourish, it has also democratized information and access to a system for autonomous health care. 

At Plan C, our job is to ensure everyone knows about this new avenue for autonomy.

Today, online access to abortion pills is being led by physician-supported site AidAccess.org, which, despite resistance from the Trump administration, has prescribed and shipped abortion pills to the U.S. for the last two years. Aid Access has worked tirelessly to extend health care into some of the most rural and economically disadvantaged areas in our country under a humanitarian mission to ensure every individual’s right to bodily autonomy and choice.

We estimate that among Aid Access, other online pharmacies and other sources of pills, tens of thousands of Americans self-managed abortions with pills last year. Research also shows that one-third to one-half all abortions within the U.S. medical system are with pills, and that this number is growing.

The truth is, most people in this country still don’t know that abortion pills exist—let alone that they are available online. And those of us who do know may have questions about their history, their safety, their legality or how we can make them more accessible to everyone.

In honor of Roe v. Wade’s 47th anniversary, we released an animated video telling the fascinating history of abortion pills in the U.S.

Abortion access is an issue that disproportionately affects our most marginalized neighbors, keeping them disempowered and in poverty, while people of privilege will always continue find the abortion access they need. We can serve our broader community by amplifying information about the availability of abortion pills online, as well as the legality of self-care.

Sharing this story is an act of freedom over our bodies. 

Take Action!

  • Share the video by email, text or social media. You can download our action kit here, which includes a shareable copy of the video as well as guidelines for posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more.
  • Spread the word about where people are finding abortion pills right now. Our research-supported Report Card indexes and rates sites that reliably ship pills to the US, including AidAccess.org, the only physician-supported service available.
  • Educate yourself on the issue at plancpills.org. If this issue is important to you, consider becoming a Plan C Ambassador of Information to access trainings and tools for activism. 


Amy Merrill is the Communications Director at Plan C. In addition to over a dozen years of working in nonprofit management, she co-founded the impact travel collective Journey, is active in the anti-trafficking movement and is currently part of the post-apocalyptic space duo Formerly Alien and co-founder and producer of The 7 Train Sessions guerilla concert series. Amy got her MA in nonprofit management from NYU Stern/Steinhardt and her BA in Music & English at UC Berkeley.