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WASHINGTON, May 4 (Reuters) – A provider of prescription pills used to terminate pregnancy at home has seen a spike in interest from American women this week, following news that the Supreme Court was likely to reverse a decision 1973 landmark that guarantees the right to abortion throughout the country. Aid Access, a nonprofit organization, said Wednesday.
The court confirmed that a draft opinion calling for the reversal of the Roe v. Wade, published Monday night by the Politico news site, was authentic. The court said it did not represent the judges’ final decision, expected by the end of June. read more
A growing number of US states have introduced restrictions that greatly limit access to abortions, with many expected to ban the procedure entirely if the court’s final decision allows individual states to determine whether it’s lawful. read more
Abortion pills, which can be mailed to a patient’s home instead of requiring a visit to a clinic, are seen as a way around such bans.
Aid Access is an Austria-based telehealth service that provides access to medical abortion in the United States.
Christie Pitney, executive director of Forward Midwifery, a Washington DC telehealth practice that works with Aid Access, said the number of women requesting abortion pill prescriptions, or information about their use, through the group’s website has risen. tripled since the draft opinion was leaked.
In total, the Aid Access website had 38,530 visitors on Tuesday, an increase of almost 2,900% from the 1,290 visitors on Monday, Pitney said.
This week’s new increase represents “unbelievably higher numbers,” he said.
In 20 US states that allow abortion pill distribution via telehealth, Aid Access works with US prescribers like Pitney to virtually meet with a patient and send a prescription for the drug to local pharmacies.
The group is looking to add providers to four more states. The remaining 26 states have restrictions on abortion, with 19 of them banning or completely restricting the use of telehealth to obtain abortion pills. To get around such restrictions, Aid Access works with doctors in Europe who prescribe the pills to patients through a mail-order pharmacy in India.
Those practices aren’t legal, but US state authorities have acknowledged they don’t have an effective way to monitor orders from foreign doctors and pharmacies. The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to the group in March 2019, ordering it to stop shipping pills from abroad.
In a medical abortion, the patient takes a drug called mifepristone, which blocks the pregnancy-maintaining hormone progesterone, followed by a second drug called misoprostol, which induces uterine contractions, to end a pregnancy instead of undergoing a surgical procedure . The pills can be used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy, according to the FDA.
Aid Access has had no trouble obtaining supplies of the pills, which are manufactured by private labs GenBioPro and Danco Laboratories for the US market.
“I’ve talked to several doctors who are stocking up (on the pills) to make sure they have access to them,” Pitney said.
GenBioPro and Danco Laboratories did not respond to requests for comment.
Medical abortion recently became the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States, accounting for 54% of all abortions in 2020, preliminary findings from the Guttmacher Institute, a consumer rights research group, show. abortion.
There were 862,300 abortions in 2017, according to the latest available data from the group. Medical abortion accounted for 39% of them that year.
Information from Ahmed Aboulenein; Edited by Michele Gershberg and Diane Craft
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