Online Abortion Care Provider Hanna Kim of Hey Jane: ‘Everything Is Done in Your Own Time’

online-abortion-pills-hanna-kim-hey-jane-new-york-california-washington-illinois-colorado-new-mexico-medication-abortion
“Patients feel really cared for,” Hanna Kim told Ms. “I remember one email that said, ‘I felt like I was talking to a mom or a sister who had all the answers.'” (Sally Rashid)

As we await the fate of Roe v. Wade, Ms.’s “Online Abortion Provider” series will spotlight the wide range of new telemedicine abortion providers springing up across the country in response to the recent removal of longstanding FDA restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone.

Telehealth abortion provider Hey Jane opened in January 2021 and now serves patients in New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Colorado and New Mexico. Hey Jane provides medication abortion up to 10 weeks of pregnancy to patients aged 18 and older, regardless of immigration status. Pills arrive in an unmarked box to protect patients’ privacy.

Ms. spoke to Hey Jane’s lead nurse Hanna Kim about how Hey Jane’s services work and why telehealth abortion is so important right now as many states are clamping down on abortion access.


Carrie Baker: Can you tell me about your medical background and your practice?

Hanna Kim: I have been a nurse for almost 10 years now in reproductive health, some in fertility, some in obstetrics, but the majority of it has been in abortion care. It’s my expertise and what I’ve been doing for most of my nursing career. I’m now full time with Hey Jane. Before this I was working in-clinic at Planned Parenthood, where I got most of my training. I’m one of five core clinical staff who interacts most with patients at Hey Jane.

Baker: How does Hey Jane’s telemedicine abortion service work?

Kim: We have an intake form on our website. We ask the same questions that an intake person would ask you in a clinic like your medical history—previous surgeries, things like that—to ensure the patient is eligible for medication abortion. And we ask additional questions like, “Where do you want your pills mailed?”

Once that’s completed, the medical team reviews the intake form. The patient will either hear from the nurse asking some clarifying questions, or they’ll hear from the provider right away, letting them know their meds have been sent.

We send patients a very, very thorough treatment guide, which has step-by-step instructions on how to take the pills, frequently asked questions and warning signs. Then the patient will receive an email from the pharmacy that we work with, which is called Honeybee Health, giving them their tracking information. The meds typically get there in one to five days.

Throughout the entire process, we send daily messages lined up with where people are in their treatment, saying things like, “Here’s how to prepare for your treatment.” Then we send other messages like, “When can you go back to your regular activities? Do you need a follow up?” We’re constantly watching the inbox to answer any questions patients have.

Baker: How do you communicate with patients?

Kim: We do most of our conversation with patients on the Spruce app, a HIPAA-compliant texting app that’s privacy protected. They can do it on their phone or a computer. I would say 70 to 80 percent of our communication is through the app. But patients can request a video visit at any time. They can just ask in the app, “Can I talk to somebody?” Then either somebody is available right then or at the latest the next day.

We send daily messages lined up with where people are in their treatment, saying things like, “Here’s how to prepare for your treatment,” “When can you go back to your regular activities?” “Do you need a follow up?”

Baker: Once a patient fills out the online form, how long does it take for you to prescribe the medication?

Kim: About 24 hours. We review the medical intake forms seven days a week. The pharmacy doesn’t ship out on Sundays, so there’s a little bit of a delay if you sign up on a weekend.

Baker: Did the Texas abortion ban S.B. 8 have any impact on Hey Jane?

Kim: When S.B. 8 went into effect, Hey Jane made a group decision to pivot really quickly to open up in New Mexico and Colorado to try and help some people out.

Baker: Do you get many people from Texas?

Kim: I think so because sometimes we’ll have ultrasounds that were done in Texas. But patients are being treated in New Mexico or Colorado or even California. My patients are definitely traveling, for sure.

online-abortion-pills-hanna-kim-hey-jane-new-york-california-washington-illinois-colorado-new-mexico-medication-abortion
Medication abortion uses two types of pills: mifepristone, which interrupts the flow of the hormone progesterone that sustains the pregnancy; and misoprostol, which causes contractions to expel the contents of the uterus. (VAlaSiurua / Wikimedia Commons)

Baker: How much do you charge. Do you take insurance?

Kim: $249. We don’t take insurance yet but we are working on it. We also work with a lot of abortion funds, which are listed on our website’s resources page. We are talking about how we can make this more accessible for people.

Baker: With funds, how does that process work?

Kim: Patients contact the fund and then the fund gives them a discount code to use on the website.

Baker: Do you offer advance provision abortion pills?

Kim: We don’t. We ask if a person has had a positive pregnancy test.

online-abortion-pills-hanna-kim-hey-jane-new-york-california-washington-illinois-colorado-new-mexico-medication-abortion
Hey Jane provides medication abortion for anyone who is at least 18 years old, medically eligible, up to 10 weeks pregnant, and located in New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Colorado or New Mexico.

Baker: What can you tell me about your patients?

Kim: Age wise, there’s a big range, just like in a clinic. Race wise, there’s also a big range. We ask for demographic information on our intake form. I think we get a lot of patients who may be rural, because many of them are concerned about privacy. They’re concerned that they’ll see somebody they recognize or people in their town will find out, which makes me think that they live somewhere small and not in a huge city.

Baker: Do you know why they’re using telemedicine?

Kim: Privacy and speed. Doctor’s appointments can be very difficult to get. With Hey Jane, we can get medication to patients in like a day. I think a lot of people are attracted to how quickly we can get the meds to them. With us, you don’t need an appointment. We don’t even require planned video visits either. Everything is done in your own time, like when people have a lunch break, or whatever. They can also plan taking the pills around their lives. They’re not required to take the meds as soon as they get them. This framework of care works for people who need some more flexibility.

Baker: You mentioned privacy. Do people ever mention not wanting to cross picket lines or protesters?

Kim: Yeah. I think people are really worried about that, and scared. We get a lot of comments like, “I’m just so glad that I didn’t have to deal with the protesters and people yelling at me on the street.”

For folks who are in domestic violence situations, this may also be a safer method of having an abortion. If you can have a package mailed to your friend’s house down the street and you don’t need to explain why you were at a clinic all day, it could be a better option.

People also have transportation problems and child care issues. Work is a big issue too. It’s sad how many workplaces are not understanding of people’s need to take time off for health care. When you have something delivered to your house, you don’t need to deal with these additional stressors. It’s easier.

Doctor’s appointments can be very difficult to get. With Hey Jane, we can get medication to patients in like a day. I think a lot of people are attracted to how quickly we can get the meds to them.

Baker: How has telemedicine abortion worked for your patients?

Kim: People are really happy with the convenience. I had a video call with a patient today who was like, “Hey, I’m in between classes, do you have time?” Or others say, “I have a break from work, can you give me a call real quick?” It’s so convenient.

Because we’re virtual and we don’t require appointments where we see someone face to face, our patient support team wants to be sure that care and compassion and empathy can cross the barrier of the screen. I think we do a pretty good job of that. Patients feel really cared for. I remember one email that said, “I felt like I was talking to a mom or a sister who had all the answers.” It’s so sweet.

Baker: Why is offering telemedicine abortion important to you?

Kim: I think the abortion landscape is changing. I think telemedicine improves accessibility. I loved working in a clinic. but I know that it can be difficult for people for a variety of reasons—like getting there, child care and time. Being able to bypass a lot of that stuff is really exciting to me. Our society isn’t set up to help folks access health care who have these things in their lives. We need to be able to text people. This has to be an option. A lot of people communicate that way now. Especially young people. The fact that we can text people is a huge draw.

Baker: Any final thoughts?

Kim: What I would love for people to know about Hey Jane is that in my experience with the feedback that people have given is that we do a really, really good job of being there for people. We do check-ins with people and we care very deeply about our patients. We try really hard to make personal connections with people. That’s what we aim for when we interact with our patients. A lot of times in medicine, clinicians tell patients, “this is what you need to do.” That’s just not okay. What we do at Hey Jane is we give options, like let’s figure out a plan together.

Hey Jane has awesome merch—posters, shirts and mugs—with Gloria, Serena, AOC and RBG.

Explore the full collection of online abortion providers profiles:

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

About

Carrie N. Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. She is a contributing editor at Ms. magazine. You can contact Dr. Baker at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @CarrieNBaker.