The past few months have seen escalating attacks on abortion access, with states passing increasingly restrictive and unconstitutional laws. But policymakers can help ensure that abortion is more accessible by allowing easier access to medication abortion care.
On the heels of Texas’s newly-enacted abortion ban—blocked by a federal court on Oct. 6, then reinstated on Oct. 8 by the Fifth Circuit Court—Governor Greg Abbott signed into law S.B. 4 making it a felony for doctors to mail abortion pills to a patient. The law applies only to doctors and explicitly exempts pregnant people from criminal penalties for ordering pills online.
But unless Texas is willing to post abortion police at every woman’s mailbox to check and intercept her mail, Texans will still have access to medication abortion online and through the mail.
On Sept. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an unconstitutional Texas abortion ban to go into effect. While the Supreme Court did not rule on the law’s merits, the decision is a chilling harbinger of how they may rule in an upcoming case—Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—on whether previability abortion bans are unconstitutional.
Many are fighting back.
On the 21st anniversary of FDA approval of the abortion pill, now is a good time to remember the courageous and tenacious people who fought for decades to make this life-saving medication possible.
There’s a reason most people don’t know about the underground network of nonmedical women in New York City who are volunteering their homes to help women living in states where access to abortion is severely restricted.
It’s the same reason most people living didn’t know about Jane, a group women who in the years before Roe v. Wade used code names and street-corner pickups to arrange as many as 11,000 abortions.
Before the six-week abortion ban takes effect on Wednesday, abortion pill advocacy group Plan C and Progress Texas drove a mobile billboard truck around West Texas for three days to educate people about how they can access abortion pills online.
“We went on an abortion road trip to let people know that you don’t need to go on a road trip anymore to get an abortion.”
On Tuesday, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco released the first-ever study on the safety and effectiveness of new online clinics offering telemedicine abortion, allowed for the first time in the U.S. during the pandemic.
“This study is real world evidence that providing medication abortion with telehealth and with a mail order pharmacy leads to efficacy and safety that is similar to in-clinic care.”
Over 70 Congress members are calling for “equitable, science-based” policies governing access to the abortion pill.
“There is no reason for the FDA to impose unnecessary restrictions on the medication abortion drug mifepristone—a safe and effective form of medication abortion care.”
For years, Indiana has been a hotbed for some of the nation’s most oppressive abortion restrictions. On Tuesday, abortion rights advocates won a lawsuit challenging several of these restrictions.
Before Tuesday’s decision, Indiana was one of 19 states prohibiting telemedicine abortion. The court also blocked an abortion counseling law requiring doctors to tell patients information that is untruthful and misleading.
While widely known as an abortion pill, mifepristone is very effective for treating fibroids and may also be effective for treating endometriosis and depression. Yet the drug is not available to use for these serious conditions because the FDA tightly restricts the medication due to intense anti-abortion pressure.
But that may soon change.