Fifty years ago, women were still fighting for their legal right to an abortion. Now, it can all be arranged online.
A new service called TelAbortion connects women looking to terminate their pregnancies with a doctor who can virtually prescribe miscarriage-inducing pills to take at home, the New York Times reports.
And as the coronavirus lockdown stretches into its third month, women are looking to use the telemedicine option more than ever because of limited access to clinics, especially in conservative states.
Throughout March and April’s, TelAbortion — which is offered in 13 states — helped twice as many women obtain abortions than in January and February, the report states. As of April 22, the service had confirmed 611 completed abortions.
Ashley Dale, of Hawaii, opted to use the service because of the expenses of traveling to a clinic in Honolulu 200 miles away.
“The alternative would be to wait for a doctor to come to my island in three weeks,” Dale, 35, told a TelAbortion doctor. But by then, she would be past the allowed limit of 10 weeks pregnant to use the pills. “It’s not like it was easy … but at the same time it’s pretty clearly the right choice.”
Another woman used TelAbortion because she didn’t want to face the protesters outside her local Planned Parenthood in Salem, Oregon.
“I just don’t want to deal with that ridicule,” Dawn, 30, tells the Times. One woman made the call from a parking lot while sitting in her car.
Some women are even traveling to one of the 13 states where TelAbortion is offered in order to be eligible for the pills. The trend is picking up even more during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have had patients who cross state lines in order to receive TelAbortions,” Dr. Elizabeth Raymond, senior medical associate at Gynuity Health Projects, which runs the program, tells the Times. Earlier this month, a Texas woman drove 10 hours in the snow to New Mexico and stayed in a motel just to receive the pills.
Once women are approved for the abortion, a package is sent to their homes and is comprised of two pills — mifepristone, which blocks the hormone that causes pregnancy to mature, and misoprostol, which helps the body get rid of fetal tissue. Women often experience cramping and bleeding.
TelAbortion charges about $200 to $375 for consultations and pills, which come in a package with tea bags, peppermints, maxi pads, prescription ibuprofen and nausea medication.
The Food and Drug Administration is allowing the service to operate.