Once only possible through shady websites with no real safety promise, a new service now makes it safer and easier than ever to get abortion medication by mail in the United States.
Rebecca Gomperts, the founder of Women on Web-an international organization that provides safe, miscarriage-inducing medication by mail-has launched a similar service in the United States. As reported by the Atlantic, the organization is called Aid Access. It's just like Women on Web, only it ships to addresses in the United States. For $95, people seeking a safe, at-home medication abortion can have the medication shipped directly to them. Aid Access also helps to provide funding assistance to anyone who can't afford the service.
Aid Access screens each person's eligibility through a quick, online process to make sure they're not more than nine weeks pregnant (the medication is less effective after that time). And as the Atlantic reports, Gomperts, who's a medical doctor, fills each prescription for misoprostol and mifepristone herself. When taken correctly, these two medications are at least 96 percent effective in causing an abortion at nine weeks or earlier. And complications are rare-fewer than 0.4 percent of people who have a medication abortion experience serious complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Similar to Women on Web, the pills shipped by Aid Access come with instructions, and Gomperts makes herself available to answer questions via phone or Skype. Though experts say this service is very safe, anyone who experiences heavy bleeding is advised to go the hospital and say they're having a miscarriage.
Gomperts told the Atlantic that she hadn't previously worked within the United States, because she worried the American anti-abortion movement would shut the service down. She said she only started doing so now because she was "being inundated with requests from women in countries such as the United States, where abortion is technically legal but growing more difficult to access."
As Gomperts tells the Atlantic, everything Aid Access is doing is technically legal-U.S. citizens can import medicines for their own personal use, per the FDA, and Gomperts has the prescriptions filled by a pharmacy in India.
There's been increasing interest in telemedicine for abortion, or a service where physicians consult patients over the phone and send medication to them at a remote location, saving a trip to a clinic that may be hours away. But current FDA regulations still require people to be in a medical center for the administration of the first pill, making telemedicine abortion still impossible in the U.S.
"I would hope the FDA would look at the science behind this and make an evidence-based decision," Dan Grossman, a physician and researcher on abortion pill safety, previously told the Los Angeles Times on the subject of abortion pills being so severely regulated. "This shouldn’t be a political decision. It should be based on science, which has very clearly shown this is a very safe drug, safer than ones that don’t have this restriction."
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