Use of Home Abortion Pills Drastically Increased During the Pandemic

Home abortion pills
Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay

U.S FDA allows mifepristone, one of the common home abortion pills to be taken after consultation from a certified professional, and at a clinic or under observation. This new policy is named REMS which means “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy” and is applicable to all medicines that require screening and monitoring to lower the health risks.

Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed on the behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, allegedly accusing FDA to impose this unnecessary rule to take mifepristone which is basically a home abortion pill and doesn’t have to be taken at a hospital during the earlier pandemic days. The court agreed to this claim but the government showed a huge criticism on this decision and filed an appeal.

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Recently, the Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal and the FDA’s restriction of using this medicine under medical supervision no more applies. But still, telemedical abortion is illegal in nearly 18 US states including Alabama. In these states, the conservative local government is pressurizing FDA to add mifepristone into its list of dangerous drugs.

The home medical abortion pills have made abortion easier as it doesn’t necessarily require hospital care and professional supervision like before. The situation wasn’t always this easy in the US, especially when these abortion pills were first introduced in the 1980s by a pharma company named Rousell-Uclaf, France.

The US, Pro-life groups opposed these self-induced abortion pills. Due to this severe response, the company limited its purchase and advertising abroad and it wasn’t available locally. Moreover, during George Bush’s presidency, the mifepristone was added to FDA’s ‘Alert” list, imposing a ban on bringing it to the US the FDA’s import alert list, prohibiting everyone to bring it to the US, even if it is for their personal use.

Women on web was a great initiative by Gompters which was launched in 2005 and aimed to help pregnant women with access to easy abortion, without risking their health and falling for illegal/criminal practices. Initially, this movement wasn’t intended for US women but after several requests, it started its operation in the US too.

In 2018, Women on web launched their new tool which was Aid Access. It helped to connect pregnant women who are in need of an abortion to the medical professionals and medical units which deliver mifepristone and misoprostol both of which are home abortion pills.

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But in last year March, a warning letter was issued to Aid Access requiring It to terminate its function as it is involved in delivering risky drugs to the US. To answer this, a lawsuit was filed by Gompters and hundreds of reproductive and sexual health believers supported her and wrote to the FDA, to revoke its policy and this warning.

The requests for help and medical assistance were sent from states where telemedicinal abortion help is restricted and unavailable. This demand has been increased by 94% during the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic where people were confined at home and were unable to access medical help.

Aid Access is available and functional for the US audience and it is receiving thousands of help requests on weekly basis. For now, Gomperts has taken back this lawsuit but plans to file another one if FDA continues to oppose the function of Aid Access.


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