The process only requires an internet connection: Patients go online and answer some HIPAA-compliant questions about their pregnancy, such as when the first day of their last period was. If it’s a simple case, it’s doctor-approved – there are seven US doctors covering 15 states – and the drug arrives in a few days. In places like Texas, where Aid Access does not have doctors in the state, Aid Access founder Rebecca Gomperts is prescribing the drug from Europe, where she is based. It can take about three weeks, says Pitney.
The ability to have a safe and discreet abortion at home with just an Internet connection could be life changing for Texans and others in need. “It really changed the face of access to abortion,” says Elisa Wells, co-founder of Diet C, which provides information and education on how to access the pills.
In Texas, the need is particularly acute as cultural stigma and an existing history of restrictive laws means there are very few in-person clinics available. Before the recent change in law, Texans were three times more likely than the national average to use abortion pills, because the abortion clinics were so far away.
“In a situation like Texas, where traditional access routes have been almost completely cut off, that’s a solution,” says Wells, who describes much of Texas as an “abortion desert.” Blacks and Hispanics often have less access to medical care, and therefore the ability to access abortion pills online it’s essential for these communities.
They are also much cheaper than medical abortions, with most pills costing $ 105 to $ 150 plus an online consultation required, depending on which state you live in. (Aid Access forgives part or all of the payment if necessary.)
But while they are commonly prescribed in other countries (they are used in around 90% of abortions in France and Scotland, for example), only 40% of American abortions use pills. In fact, the use of pills in the United States to “self-manage an abortion” can lead to charges in at least 20 states, including Texas, and has been the basis of the arrest of 21 people since 2000. Aid Access’s use of Gomperts to write prescriptions as a foreign doctor has been the subject of a federal FDA investigation, that the group contested. The situation remains unresolved.