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Women in the US are increasingly purchasing and stocking up on abortion medication, particularly when there are reports of new restrictions on abortion access.
Science & Health

Women in the US are increasingly purchasing and stocking up on abortion medication, particularly when there are reports of new restrictions on abortion access.

Recent research indicates that many women in the United States have been purchasing abortion pills in large quantities as a precautionary measure, especially during times when obtaining the medication may become more difficult. The number of requests has seen a significant increase in the past few years.

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Tuesday examined the usage of mifepristone and misoprostol, two drugs commonly used for medication abortion, through the online service Aid Access. This service provides prescriptions for individuals who are not currently pregnant but may need the pills in the future or for immediate use. In the United States, medication abortion makes up more than 50% of all abortions performed.

Between September 2021 and April 2023, Aid Access received approximately 48,400 requests for “advance provision” from various locations in the United States. Researchers discovered that the number of requests spiked after news of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked in May 2022, but before the official announcement was made in June.

On a nationwide scale, the average daily number of requests drastically increased by almost ten times, going from approximately 25 in the eight months leading up to the leak, to 247 following the leak. In states where a ban on abortion was expected, the average weekly request rate rose by almost nine times.

Dr. Abigail Aiken, one of the authors of the letter, stated that individuals are concerned about potential risks to their reproductive health access and rights. They may be wondering how to prepare for or overcome these threats.

According to research, the number of daily requests decreased to 89 across the country following the Supreme Court’s ruling. However, in April 2023, the number rose to 172 due to conflicting legal decisions regarding the federal approval of mifepristone. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will make a decision on restrictions for this drug within the current year.

Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, co-author and director of Aid Access in Amsterdam, credits the rise in numbers to increased public awareness during uncertain times.

The study revealed disparities in the distribution of advance pills. Individuals who requested pills for current abortions were typically younger, non-white, had children, and lived in rural areas with higher poverty rates, while those who received advance pills were generally older, white, childless, and lived in urban areas with lower poverty rates.

According to Dr. Daniel Grossman, a specialist in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, the current provision system is not effectively reaching those who encounter the most obstacles in obtaining abortion care. He was not involved in the research.

According to an email, there is a desire for individuals to have access to these pills in case they are needed, rather than having to travel or seek them through telehealth while pregnant. More investigation is necessary to address any disparities.

Aiken stated that there has been a trend of other groups providing pre-emptive pills.

She explained that for many individuals, this concept is unfamiliar as it is not commonly used in the American healthcare system. It may come as a surprise to many that this service is even available.