Stanford Social Innovation Review: Reproductive Health Care by Mail

Reproductive Health Care by Mail

It is time to give US women the convenience, confidentiality, and autonomy of birth control and abortion pills that women elsewhere enjoy.

From the article:

For more than 10 years, women around the world have been able to self-diagnose their pregnancies and order highly effective and safe early-abortion pills online or obtain them from a local pharmacy, often without a prescription. Services such as Women on WebWomen Help Women, and, more recently, safe2choose offer online consultations and express delivery of abortion pills directly to women in their homes, all without a physical exam. These sites also offer information and support to women about what to expect during the abortion process. Not surprisingly, research has found that women value the convenience and privacy of online services. Research has also demonstrated that the safety and effectiveness of this model are comparable to those of services delivered through clinics.

Unfortunately, none of the services that supply pills in other countries will ship them to the United States, despite receiving nearly 10,000 requests per month from women here. These pills are the same ones given to women who choose a medication abortion at Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics. But because abortion is so highly politicized in the United States, access to these pills has been severely restricted since the day that mifepristone (RU-486, also known as the French abortion pill) was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2000. Unlike the vast majority of medications, which clinicians prescribe and patients pick up at a pharmacy, mifepristone can only be shipped to doctors who have specially registered with the manufacturer.