Mail-Order Abortion Pills Shouldn’t Be More Regulated Than Viagra

With insurance costs skyrocketing, medical companies are doing everything they can to make health care more affordable — like reducing resources needed for minor medical interactions. Technology is helping to cut costs, with telemed appointments and drug delivery services replacing traditional doctors visits and pharmacy stops.

And that low-cost and easy distribution is coming to reproductive health care, too.

Both men and women can now take care of personal health needs through websites called “Hims” and “Hers,” where a customer can request generic medications to treat hair loss and erectile dysfunction, or obtain hormonal birth control — all without leaving their homes.

Forbes explains:

The Hers online platform will work the same way the Hims one does. Customers can order products to show up on their doorstep monthly. Potential patients who want to get prescription medications, like finasteride pills for hair regrowth or birth control pills, fill out questions about their medical history specific to the condition that they want to be evaluated for, and then, if doctors choose, they’ll have a back-and-forth discussion with a patient over a secure messaging system. (For ED pills and Addyi screening, doctors are required to chat with the patient before making a diagnosis.) Once patients get their prescriptions, they also get automated follow-up check-ins from Hims or Hers telling patients to share how things are going with the medication or treatment.

It’s incredibly simple and convenient — so why, oh why, can’t we have this service when it comes to a medication abortion? The answer is politics.

Abortion is still technically legal in the United States, although it gets harder for many populations to obtain every day. Aid Access – an offshoot of Women on Waves/Women on Web, which provides medication abortion for those living in countries where abortion is illegal –  is trying to address the situation by offering online consultations and prescriptions for those living in the U.S. as well.

Much like Hers, Aid Access asks questions online, relays the information to a doctor and, after confirming a patient’s health history, sends medicine to terminate the pregnancy.

But Aid Access isn’t the first to offer this service in the U.S.

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland ran a very successful telemed abortion program for years as a pilot in Iowa. A patient could enter a clinic in one of a dozen different cities in the state, receive an examination and speak with a doctor via teleconference. Then the individual could take the first of the two medicines in office and head home to take the second and complete the abortion.

Despite receiving no complaints from any patients while the program existed, the state’s far-right medical board tried to shut it down. Now many of those clinics are closed anyway, making the program far less effective.

Aid Access attempts to go even further by removing the initial appointment altogether, a move that is replicated in the Hims/Hers online pharmacy business.

While getting abortion medication from a clinic after an exam would generally be preferable, the simple fact is that most clinics are far away, expensive or surrounded by protesters — and some patients simply aren’t able to, or don’t wish to, leave their homes to get medication.

Meanwhile, the medication itself is extremely safe for a patient in early pregnancy. If the choices are forgoing a doctor’s exam or waiting longer, obtaining less reputable medications or trying other abortion management options — then, yes, online discussions and home delivery is the best way to go.

Yet abortion opponents are eager to use the FDA to shut down Aid Access. They call abortion medication delivery “dangerous,” despite a complication rate that’s less than .5 percent.

But anti-abortion activists inherently know that they aren’t telling the truth. Their real concern is that with abortion available through the mail and without clinics, they lose their ability to intervene and influence a patient’s decision.

“Mail order abortion pills could be a game changer,” writes Christian reporter John Stonestreet, arguing that it “allowed women to get around abortion-restrictive laws and societal norms.”

The real fear, Stonestreet notes, is that anti-abortion advocates may be losing the battle to convince society “that the taking of innocent human life is always wrong, no matter how it’s done.”

In the 17 years that medication abortion has been used in the U.S., a total of 22 people have died — a minuscule fraction of the millions who have used the pills. Meanwhile, deaths from those who have used Viagra started at over 500 the first year it was on the market – and the drug is still believed to be responsible for as many as a dozen deaths a year.

Keeping medication abortion under a direct doctor’s control while expanding delivery of birth control, hair growth and Viagra without this “safety precaution” is outright political hypocrisy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

57 comments

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson16 days ago

Thank you.

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Mely Lu
Mely Lu17 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Salla T
Salla Tuu17 days ago

Ty

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Elaine W
Elaine W18 days ago

This information is good to know.

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Sophie A
Sophie A18 days ago

Thanks for sharing

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Caitlin L
Caitlin L19 days ago

thank you for sharing

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Deirdre G
Deirdre G20 days ago

Abortion pills are ordered online by many women in Ireland each year, who haven't the money to travel abroad and for them this is their only option. They present to the nearest hospital in cases of complications, since it is impossible for doctors to tell the difference between a medical abortion and a regular miscarriage. It must be hard for them but when it's the only option, it's better than nothing

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Amparo Fabiana Chepote
Amparo Fabiana C20 days ago

Thanks. Protect women's rights and take the pill, it works.

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heather g
heather g20 days ago

I quote (and humbly correct it): "a direct doctor’s control while expanding delivery of birth control, hair growth and Viagra without this “safety precaution” is outright political hypocrisy." No, it's males' sexist hypocrisy. Do we really want to bring unwanted babies into the world?

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Rose Becke
Rose Becke20 days ago

I agree with Pam W

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