Multiple states and politicians in the USA are trying to make it illegal—or at least as difficult as possible—for people to get abortions. When the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade this spring, it became up to each state to decide whether to either legalize or ban abortion. As a result, in many states, obtaining an abortion became nearly impossible.
No matter how many politicians (or, let’s be honest, white male Republicans) attempt to prevent people from getting abortion care, the need for abortions will always be there. On Radiolab’s podcast “No-Touch Abortion,” ER doctor Avir Mitra expressed his concern about what consequences these severe restrictions on abortion in multiple states could have. Mitra says that illegalizing abortions doesn’t lead to fewer abortions; instead, it often increases less safe at-home abortions.
But there is an alternative; the abortion pill.
What is the “Abortion Pill," And When Can I Use It?
Although the name is misleading, medication abortion actually consists of having two take two types of medicine; first, you take a medicine named Mifepristone in a pill form, which stops the growth of the pregnancy by blocking the pregnancy hormone (progesterone). 24-48 hours later, you take the other pill, the medicine Misoprostol, which causes cramping and bleeding to empty the uterus. The abortion pill is as safe as having a naturally caused miscarriage and has a 98% succession rate in the first trimester (up to week 12).
The medicine Mifepristone is approved by the FDA. It is also used to regulate blood sugar levels for adults with Cushing’s Syndrome who has a sugar intolerance or type 2 diabetes. It was then discovered that the medicine also stops the pregnancy hormone, progesterone, and therefore ends pregnancies. Mifepristone must then be followed with Misoprostol to empty the uterus and eliminate the pregnancy from the body. Misoprostol is also an FDA-approved medicine that is used to prevent stomach ulcers.
As both pills are used as a medical treatment for other health issues and can both be found on WHO’s list of essential medicine, they cannot be made illegal.
What Does it Feel Like to Use the Abortion Pill?
The bleeding is described as a heavy period that can be unpleasant in some cases. The bleeding starts after taking the second pill, Misoprostol, and you can expect the bleeding to start around 4 hours after taking it. It is recommended to use pads instead of tampons to be aware of how much you are bleeding. The bleeding should decrease after 24 hours, but some women experience light bleeding 1-3 weeks after the abortion. However, if you bleed through two maxi pads in the hour more than two hours in a row, you should seek help.
Some women also experience other side effects like nausea, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, dizziness, and in some cases, even fever. If you get a fever, you must be aware that it does not continue; otherwise, seek help.
It can be a good idea to take ibuprofen 30 minutes before taking Misoprostol and then every 8 hours or as needed. Tylenol is also an option if you’re allergic to ibuprofen.
The organization How To Use Abortion Pill has great information about what to expect before, during, and after taking the pill, as well as frequently asked questions.
How Can I Obtain Abortion Pills if I Need Them, And How Much Does It Cost?
Through the international online abortion service Women on Web, you can access medication abortion (or the abortion pill) without a doctor’s appointment. They also offer abortion care to women in other countries than the US. To get a prescription for the abortion pill, you will only need to have an online consultation on Women on Web to make sure you are eligible for the medicine.
You’ll then get a confirmation of your request. In the confirmation mail, you’ll also get asked to make a donation between $70 and $90 as a form of payment. However, you can send them an email at email@example.com if you’re in a difficult financial situation. After your donations have gone through, your prescription will arrive within 1-3 business days.
If you’re living in New York, Hey Jane offers a similar service. You can get a prescription for the medicine through an online consultation, and then delivered to you in discreet packaging in 1-2 business days. The price for the abortion pill on Hey Jane varies; you can either pay through your insurance (they accept Aetna insurance) or you can get a sliding scale price, which means the price of the medicine is determined by your financial situation.
If you’re living in Colorado, Minnesota, Wyoming, or Montana (or able to travel to one of those states), you can also get help to access the abortion pill on Just the Pill. The price of the abortion pill through Just the Pill is $350, including the pharmacy fee.
Who Should Avoid Using the Abortion Pill?
You should, first and foremost, only take the abortion pill if you want to end your pregnancy– not if anyone is pushing or forcing you to do it. It is also essential not to take the abortion pill if you’re alone; ask a trusted person, such as your partner or a friend, to stay with you in case of any complications. You also need to ensure you are no longer than an hour away from the nearest emergency room and have thought through whom to take you there in case of an emergency, as you’ll not be able to drive there yourself.
There are a few illnesses to look out for before you take the abortion pill, such as chronic adrenal failure, Hemorrhagic disorders or bleeding disorders/diseases, and Inherited porphyries. If you have any of these illnesses, you should not take the abortion pill:
Can I Go to Jail for Using the Abortion Pill in States Where Abortion is Illegal?
As mentioned earlier, both Mifepristone and Misoprostol are used to treat other medical situations as well, and it is therefore not illegal to receive such small amounts of the prescribed medicine at your home address.
The legal landscape is changing due to the overturning of Roe v Wade, and it cannot be easy to know where and how to get help. You can go to the National Abortion Federation to see the options in your state or where to gain access to the health care you might need. However, the abortion pill is a safe alternative with easy access. Both Women on Web, Hey Jane, and Just the Pill offer information and guidance to ensure you get the support and health care you need.
The debate about the right to abortion might be controversial, but getting the proper health care you need shouldn’t be. Despite the ban on abortion in multiple states, it is important to know that other options are possible—and you can even get them delivered right to your door.
Rosemarie Lundgaard is studying for a master's degree in Contemporary Literature at the University of Aarhus. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys coffee, going on walks, literature, and anything pop culture related.