Demand for birth control pills has surged in the US despite a push from some lawmakers to crack down on mail-order abortion medication.
US-based telehealth groups Hey Jane, Just The Pill and Choix said they have received more web traffic, appointment requests and payments from patients in states that allow them to operate since the Supreme Court removed the federal protection to abortion on June 24.
Some groups encourage patients in states that restrict abortion to travel to states where patients can get the pills legally, while other organizations help raise money to pay for their travel.
Hey Jane, a virtual clinic which offers medication abortion services, experienced an almost tenfold surge in website traffic and twofold increase of patient demand after the Supreme Court decision, CEO Kiki Freedman said.
In a statement to China Daily, Freedman said the telehealth group is “more than prepared” to accommodate the increase in demand as it has been “preparing for this reality for months”.
“This spike in interest demonstrates to us that people are increasingly curious about telemedication abortion as it becomes an exceptionally viable option in the wake of Roe’s overturn,” Freedman said.
Abortion medication is poised to become the next battleground as more women turn to the pills as a way to terminate pregnancy after the Supreme Court decision.
However, as such companies seek to expand across state lines to meet rapidly growing demand, many states that have outlawed abortions are also moving to restrict medication abortions and the use of telemedicine for abortion.
South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem indicated on CBS’ Face the Nation in June that she would bar mail-order abortion pills in her state and prosecute doctors who prescribe the pills online.
“We don’t believe it should be available, because it is a dangerous situation for those individuals without being medically supervised by a physician,” she said.
Mifepristone, taken together with misoprostol, is a US Food and Drug Administration-approved abortion regimen that is used for up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
In the 20 years after the drug’s introduction, medication abortion now accounts for more than half of all abortions in the US, according to an analysis by Guttmacher Institute, a policy group that supports reproductive rights.
“Throughout the more than 20 years that it has been used in the United States, medication abortion has been proven to be overwhelmingly safe and effective,” the organization’s researchers noted, citing a 2021 study by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco.
The study tracked patients who had medication abortion care provided by Telehealth clinic Choix and concluded that 95 percent of the 110 patients had a complete abortion without intervention. Five percent required medical care to complete the abortion, and no patients reported any major adverse events.
Choix is continuing to see 50 percent more patients after experiencing a 600 percent increase in website traffic the day Roe vs Wade was reversed, CEO Cindy Adam told China Daily.
The company is licensed to serve in California, Colorado, Illinois and New Mexico. State residency isn’t required to access care, however, patients do need to be in the states Choix serves for their telehealth visits and to receive medication, said Adam.
“Choix will continue to expand to every state where we can safely and legally provide abortion care, and our goal is to be in every single one of those states by the end of 2023,” said Adam, who is also a nurse practitioner.
The company is “considering all options” to safely and legally expand access to abortion care and is actively looking into ways to help support patients outside of the states Choix currently serves, Adam added.
US-based telehealth providers aren’t the only ones seeing the increase in demand for abortion medications in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision.
Clinics from outside of the country also have reportedly received a surge of requests from American women looking to purchase abortion pills.
“The increase in demand has been disproportionate,” Sandra Cardona, founder of Red Necesito Abortar, a nonprofit in Monterrey, Mexico, told The Wall Street Journal.
Cardona’s organization has received more than 400 requests for abortion pills from women in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana, among other states, since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, the Journal reported.