Requests for abortion pills have skyrocketed since Roe’s fall, study finds

Request Abortion pills – drugs people can take at home to terminate a pregnancy – skyrocketed in many states after it became clear the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, according to a new study.

The study, what was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, analyzed the requests for medical abortion in 30 Republican-leaning states using data from Access to aidan Austria-based telemedicine service that sends abortion pills to the United States

Researchers found that requests for the pills – already the most common method of abortion in the United States – fell from an average of 83 a day to 137 a day after the court’s proposed access ruling abortion was disclosed to the public in May. In the two months since the official court ruling was released in June, those requests have averaged about 214 a day.

“Each state, regardless of abortion policy, showed higher demand rates during the periods after the leak and after the decision was formally announced, with the largest increases seen in states enacting outright bans. “, found the researchers, with Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma seeing the largest increases.

In states that have enacted comprehensive abortion bans, patients overwhelmingly said they seek medical abortion because of laws preventing them from terminating a pregnancy. Sixty-two percent of patients who requested abortion pills after the court ruling cited “current abortion restrictions” as the reason for their need, up from 31% before the leak.

Patients in states hostile to abortion but that have not yet enacted a full ban were more likely to cite “possible future legal restrictions” as a reason for seeking a medical abortion, the study also found. Other possible explanations for the overall surge in requests in all 30 states may be “increased awareness of the service, confusion about state laws, and”― as abortion providers warned ― “Disturbance of clinic services as a result of an increase in out-of-state patients,” the study states.

Demand for medical abortion has skyrocketed, even as many states have banned their provision. But Aid Access was able to circumvent this. The group only uses doctors in Europe to provide virtual abortion care to patients in states that ban the pills, and those doctors face little legal risk for breaking a US state law from outside the country. . US patients can receive the pills in one to three weeks for around $100.

Whereas state laws against medical abortion focus on prosecuting those who provide them, abortion rights groups say that as the legal landscape is currently going through massive change, it remains unclear what type of prosecution patients who access the procedure could be faced.

Plan C, an online information resource on access to medical abortion, notes that between 2000 and 2020 there were at least 61 cases of people prosecuted for having self-managed their abortion or for having helped someone else to do so.

Denise W. Whigham