If you have to travel 100 miles to terminate your pregnancy, ordering abortion pills online might be a more practical option for you. But while it’s relatively easy to purchase medication abortion on the internet, websites can feel sketchy or confusing as they don’t always provide the relevant information or instructions.
Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts has addressed this problem, launching a new service called Aid Access that mails abortion pills to people living in the United States.
When taken together 24-hours apart, mifepristone and misoprostol can terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks. Both drugs are verified by the World Health Organization, and research suggests that people don’t have to be medical professionals to administer the pills themselves.
Gomperts told The Atlantic, which first reported the news, that she is filling each prescription for mifepristone and misoprostol herself and has been sending the medications to a trusted Indian pharmacist, who is then responsible for shipping the pills to U.S. residents. Gomperts is a prominent reproductive justice advocate and founder of Women on Web, a website that provides the abortion pill to people living in countries where it’s illegal.
While abortion is still technically legal in the United States, the courts have been chipping away at Roe v. Wade for years. Millions live in cities where the closest abortion provider is 100 miles away; 27 cities qualify as abortion deserts.
Gomperts launched the service six months ago in secret for patients with limited-to-no access to health care. She’s already sent pills to an estimated 600 women.
“It was in response to the urgent medical need,” she told ThinkProgress by email.
As President Trump lambastes other countries, like Canada, for their health care systems, falsely arguing that their residents often flock to the United States for health care, it turns out that the international community is actually helping U.S. residents who can’t access health care.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the nation’s highest court means access can easily worsen as conservatives now hold a majority in the Supreme Court. Already, more than a dozen cases, primed by the anti-choice movement, are making their way to the Supreme Court, aiming to overturn or hobble Roe.
“With a decidedly anti-abortion majority now on the Supreme Court, we are likely to see clinical abortion even more restricted or pushed out of reach entirely,” Jill Adams, chief strategist at The SIA Legal Team, said in a statement.
“It’s not surprising to see new efforts to distribute a safe, effective abortion option. Though abortion is legal, people who end their own pregnancies, and those who assist them, may be reported, arrested, or imprisoned. We should ensure that however a person decides to end a pregnancy, they can do so safely, effectively, and with dignity,” Adams added.
It is illegal for patients to self-administer the abortion pill in some parts of the country. Indeed, self-managed abortion is categorically banned in seven states. However, there is an ongoing effort to overturn decades-old laws that have led to the arrests or investigations of at least 20 patients.
“It’s really up to us to change those laws now so that we don’t end up replacing the coat hanger with a jail cell for women who self manage their abortion whether now or in the future,” Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), recently told ThinkProgress.
Simultaneously, advocates are hoping the conversation around self-managed abortion shifts from an act of desperation in the midst of Donald Trump’s America to an act of choice. Indeed, people may choose to terminate their pregnancy outside of a clinic setting for spiritual purposes or for a more comfortable setting.