Massachusetts just passed a sweeping new reproductive rights law. In addition to provider protections, it removes cost barriers to abortion care, expands access to third-trimester abortions in cases of grave fetal diagnosis, increases access to emergency contraception and medication abortion, and guarantees the right to gender-affirming care.
In the wake of Dobbs, people living in states with abortion bans are finding creative ways to access abortion healthcare. For people living along the U.S. southern border, there’s a new option: Telefem—a telehealth abortion provider based in Mexico City that mails abortion pills to secure pickup locations along the U.S.–Mexico border for $150. Ms. magazine spoke with Telefem director and midwife Paula Rita Rivera about how Telefem works and why they began offering services to people from the United States.
“I want to say to the women out there: We are here for you! Don’t be afraid. We are with you till the end.”
As the human rights crisis in the U.S. intensifies, every healthcare worker has a role in protecting people who need abortion care. We must empower ourselves, patients, and the public with accurate, actionable information to access the resources they need. Not acting in this crisis goes immediately against one of the first oaths we made joining the health professions: Do no harm.
A decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is due out any day, one that feminist organizers are now sure will reverse Roe v. Wade and strip millions of their longstanding right to abortion. Clinics in protected areas are bracing for an influx of patients while those in anti-abortion states are preparing to operate in a hostile environment — or shut down completely.
“We are aware that Washington and other states where abortion is legally protected are being seen as the safety net,” said clinic director Sanchez in Washington. “And honestly, the safety net has holes in it.”
When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade later this month, clinics in states with legal abortion will be inundated with patients, creating long waits for in-clinic abortion care.
To address this anticipated influx of patients, California-based Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Fund (WRRAP) has created a new “abortion pills by mail” program to fund telehealth abortion providers in 20 states.
In December of 2021, the FDA lifted some of its burdensome restrictions on the abortion pill mifepristone, including the requirement that healthcare providers must meet in-person with patients to dispense the medication. Nineteen states, however, continue to impose in-person dispensing requirements.
Legal scholars and advocates are questioning the constitutionality of these additional restrictions on abortion pills.
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.
“Doctor’s appointments can be very difficult to get. With Hey Jane, we can get medication to patients in like a day.” Hanna Kim, lead nurse for Hey Jane, told Ms. “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.'”
The Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline (M+A Hotline) was founded in 2019 by two primary care physicians who knew people were self-managing their abortions at home but often had questions and would go to the internet looking for answers. Dr. April Lockley is a family medicine physician in New York City and medical director of the M+A Hotline (1-833-246-2632).
“Since the beginning of time, people and communities have taken care of themselves without going to the doctor because of how the system is set up. It’s inequitable. It’s racist. And so people have always taken care of themselves. We’re a support to say, ‘This process is going as it should.'”
As we await the fate of Roe, 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.
Dr. Razel Remen, an independent abortion provider in Detroit, provides telemedicine abortion for people in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota and New York. She offers medication abortion pills to people 14 and older through 11 weeks of pregnancy. “If I had not done my residency in Alabama, I would not have become an abortion provider. It made me realize that lack of access to abortion not only negatively impacted individual people, but also their families and communities.”
As states across the U.S. continue to restrict abortion access, people in states that ban telemedicine abortion are increasingly turning to European doctors to access abortion pills. New research definitively shows that people served by Austria-based telemedicine abortion provider Aid Access have had highly positive experiences with the service, with very low rates of complications reported.