Abortion pills and mifepristone saw an increase after the Supreme Court ruling

Less than a quarter century ago, abortion pills could not be legally obtained from a U.S.-based medical provider.

Now they are the most common method of terminating a pregnancy; they are used by three in five abortion patients in the US

U.S. use of abortion drugs has increased rapidly since 2000, when the FDA approved the use of mifepristone, one of two drugs used in the most common abortion regimen.

Over the past eight years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has steadily relaxed rules to allow patients up to 10 weeks of pregnancy to take mifepristone and receive it in the mail after a telemedicine appointment.

Abortion care is beginning to shift from in-person visits to the mailbox. Just four years ago, there were no abortion clinics in the US that only provided abortion pills online. But during the COVID-19 pandemic — and after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion in 2022 — virtual abortion clinics began to play an increasingly important role.

If the Supreme Court decides to order a reversal of recent FDA rules restricting patients from obtaining mifepristone at pharmacies or through the mail without an in-person visit, abortion services could be restricted even in blue states like California.

Here are some statistics on abortion pill use in the US:

How many medication abortions occur annually in the US?

About 642,700 Medical abortions took place within the formal healthcare system in 2023, the paper said Monthly survey of abortion facilities from the Guttmacher Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit research group committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health in the U.S.

This number is likely an undercount, as it does not include self-managed abortions with medications outside the formal health care system, or abortion pills shipped to everyone in the 14 states where abortion is banned.

What percentage of abortion patients in the US use medication for abortion?

According to Guttmacher it is Medicinal abortions were justified 63% of abortions in 2023 – a huge leap from zero in 2000 to 53% in 2020.

This percentage does not include self-managed abortions or abortion pills sent to someone in a state where abortion is banned.

Guttmacher does not have state-level abortion data.

How many states restrict the shipment of abortion pills?

Twelve states – with the exception of the 14 States that ban abortion have passed laws mandating at least one in-person clinic visit, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation health news service.

Twenty-four States, including California, have no abortion restrictions for telehealth medications.

Yet the legal landscape is blurry. Some online-only abortion clinics, such as Europe-based Aid Access, allow U.S. doctors in blue states with “shield laws,” legislation designed to protect them from prosecution, to prescribe and ship pills to patients in limited states.

How many Americans get abortion drugs in the mail?

There are no complete national data on the number of self-managed medication abortions. But research suggests that more American women accessed abortion pills through the mail in recent years as they experienced limited access to clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic, states imposed abortion restrictions and abortion pills became more easily accessible.

Data from Aid Access, a service run by European doctor Rebecca Gomperts that began shipping abortion pills to Americans in 2018, shows that requests for self-managed abortion via online telemedicine nearly tripled after the Supreme Court ruled Roe vs. Wade destroyed.

In 2022, U.S. patient requests for Aid Access for self-managed medication abortions increased from average 83 a day before the Supreme Court's abortion decision was leaked 214 a day after the court decision was formally announced, according to research led by Abigail Aiken, associate professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Demand increased in all states, but the largest increases occurred in states that have implemented total or near-complete abortion bans: Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Oklahoma.

The Family Planning Associationa global nonprofit organization specializing in “abortion and contraceptive science,” recently estimated that 16% of abortions in the US were provided via telehealth in September 2023 13,770 remote abortions, providing medications through the mail from online-only and brick-and-mortar clinics.

This data includes abortion pills shipped to people in states that ban or restrict telehealth abortions.

How many US clinics offer medication abortion?

About 789 facilities in the U.S. offered medication abortion by 2022, according to data from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, a research program at UC San Francisco.

The number of facilities that provide remote abortion care and send abortion pills has increased dramatically 52 in 2020 until 243 in 2022.

How have telehealth abortion services expanded since the COVID-19 pandemic?

In 2020 there were zero online-only clinics offering medication abortion.

By 2022, 69 According to ANSRHs, virtual clinics provided care via telehealth in 23 states and DC Database of Abortion Facilities. Most new clinics are concentrated in the northeast and west.

How many Californians get abortion drugs in the mail from virtual clinics?

According to the Society for Family Planning's October 2023 #WeCount report, 7,510 In the first six months of 2023, telehealth abortions in California were offered by virtual clinics.

This figure does not include telehealth abortions from physical clinics.

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