US requests for abortion pills abroad soar: study

US requests for abortion pills abroad soar: study


Requests by Americans for abortion pills from outside the United States have surged since the US Supreme Court’s explosive decision last summer to overturn the nation’s right to the procedure, according to a study published Tuesday.

Researchers, whose work was published in the medical journal JAMA, analyzed the number of requests submitted to telemedicine service Aid Access, which delivers abortion pills from abroad to 30 US states.

Aid Access was set up specifically to help women “self-manage” their abortions at home, bypassing local bans or other barriers.

Following the Supreme Court’s controversial decision in late June, many Republican-led states have severely restricted or banned abortion altogether.

According to the study, before the Supreme Court’s decision, Aid Access received an average of 83 requests per day from the 30 states in which it operates.

But in the two months after that, that number jumped to 213 a day — an increase of about 160 percent.

Proportional to the number of women in each state, the surge in requests for access to assistance was highest in Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma — where abortion was outright banned.

In states that banned abortion, about 62 percent of cases cited “current legal restrictions” as the motivation for women to use the service, compared to 31 percent previously, according to the Supreme Court’s decision.

The study analyzed requests for the pills on other websites where they are easily available for a few hundred dollars – but without medical supervision.

Another study, also published Tuesday in the journal JAMA, looked at the average travel time for women to reach an abortion clinic in the United States.

The average time was 28 minutes before the Supreme Court decision and increased significantly to 1 hour and 40 minutes thereafter. However, the national average masks large local differences.

In states that have implemented full abortion bans or restrictions after six weeks of pregnancy, the average increase in travel time was four hours, according to the study, which added that lack of access is particularly a problem for those with fewer resources.

In the 100 days following the Supreme Court ruling, at least 66 clinics have stopped performing abortions, according to a Guttmacher Institute report released in early October.

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