A new study reports a 27% increase in the number of women ordering the abortion pill online without the oversight of a physician during the various state shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
At the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdowns, many states decided to try and shut down abortion clinics for a variety of reasons, including to preserve the personal protective equipment supply (PPE). This move was praised by pro-life advocates and many hoped that this would encourage women to think twice about aborting their babies. But, at least in some cases, this wasn’t the case.
According to researchers, there was a 27% increase in the number of women ordering an abortion pill online and getting the drugs through the mail, without undergoing a physical examination by a physician.
State-by-state, the results strongly varied. Texas, which was temporarily successful at banning surgical abortions in the state, saw a nearly 94% increase in the number of women seeking the abortion pill. Massachusetts was the second highest at 65%, New York at 60%, Louisiana at 58.3% and Washington at 35%, rounding out the top five states.
The authors concluded, “Our findings suggest that telemedicine models for medication abortion should be a policy priority; when in-clinic abortion services are not accessible, people may seek alternative ways of accessing time-sensitive care.”
These results were reached by tracking the number of women who ordered the abortion pill online from a website known as Aid Access, which is an illegal and unethical website that pro-life groups have been trying to shut down for years.
Earlier this year, the Susan B. Anthony List sent a letter to the FDA requesting that the government agency shut down Aid Access and others that sell the abortion pill online. The letter read in part, “We urge the FDA to protect women from the distributors of abortion-inducing drugs who place lives at risk by circumventing your agency’s regulatory safeguards.”
There has been a growing movement within the pro-abortion community before the pandemic to try and deregulate and increase access to the abortion pills, bypassing any medical oversight. These challenging times gave them the perfect excuse.
Recently, a judge ruled that women do not have to visit a hospital or a medical office to receive the abortion pill during the pandemic. This would leave women vulnerable to possible serious and life-threatening complications, as certain risk factors could be missed due to a lack of a physical exam. For example, the abortion pill can be fatal for a woman with an ectopic pregnancy.
The other problem with receiving the abortion pill in the mail is that if the woman does have a complication, then she may seek help by going to the hospital. This could put an additional strain on the already stressed hospital system or she could avoid treatment due to fears over COVID.
The pandemic has disrupted life in so many ways and seeing an increase in the number of women seeking an abortion online is not a shock, but it is potentially concerning. Many experts have warned against comparing the abortion pill to “Tylenol,” as the former president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards said. But rather, a dangerous drug that can have many life-threatening side effects.
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