Online demand for medical abortion spikes after Roe vs. Wade, study finds

AUSTIN — Online demand for abortion drugs surged after Roe’s fall against Wade, especially in states like Texas that quickly enacted bans, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Researchers looked at requests from 30 states to Aid Access, an Austria-based telemedicine service that send abortion medicine to Americans overseas.

They found average daily claims almost doubled – from 82.6 to 137.1 – after the US Supreme Court’s opinion on abortion leak in early May. Applications rose to 213.7 a day once the official decision was issued in June and triggered the abortion ban in a dozen states.

Texas, which has banned all abortions except in cases where the life of the expectant mother is in danger, saw the sixth largest increase, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings show that restrictive laws do nothing to end the need for abortion, but rather change how some people access it, said Abigail Aiken, associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin and lead author of the study. ‘study.

“While the number of clinic abortions has declined due to abortion bans, we have seen a simultaneous increase in self-managed abortions,” Aiken said in a written statement.

Medical abortion is one of the most common ways to end a pregnancy before 10 weeks, according to Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research and policy organization. Two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, are taken in tandem to block the hormone needed for pregnancy to develop and induce labor.

Dr. G. Sealy Massingill, former chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, said medical abortions are safe and effective, and the risk of complications are rare.

Before the Texas abortion ban took effect, patients went to a clinic for the first pill and then completed the regimen at home. Now, abortion clinics across the state have closed because doctors in Texas can face jail time and heavy fines for helping with the procedure.

“It wouldn’t be surprising to find that women in Texas were taking advantage of telemedicine abortion, and it’s not particularly worrisome for patient health or safety,” Massingill said. “It’s access that’s the problem.”

The GOP-controlled legislature sought to limit the spread pills last year by making it illegal mail them to patients, among others. But legal experts said the law will be difficult to enforce against organizations that operate outside the country.

Aid Access, founded by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts, consults patients online before an Indian pharmacy ships the pills, to costs generally range between $105 and $150. Between Sept. 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022, the organization received nearly 42,300 requests from all 30 states, according to the study.

It’s unclear how many other bands are doing something similar.

The Abortion ban in Texas criminalizes doctors who perform the procedure, and a separate law, Senate Bill 8, allows people to sue doctors or anyone else who “aids or abets” an abortion after fetal heart activity is detected. There are no exemptions for rape or incest.

While the law authorizes abortion to save the life of the pregnant person, some medical providers fearing to violate the prohibition would have delayed the termination of dangerous pregnancies.

People who have abortions cannot be prosecuted under the law, but a highly publicized case last spring the Starr County district attorney has charged a woman with murder for a voluntary abortion. Office later dropped the case.

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