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Getting Abortion Pill Via Mail Order Is Quick, Safe & Effective
  • Posted May 13, 2024

Getting Abortion Pill Via Mail Order Is Quick, Safe & Effective

Women who get abortion pills through the mail receive care that's as good as those who are required to get them in person from a clinic or doctor's office, a new study says.

Using a mail-order pharmacy to deliver the drugs after an in-person assessment was both safe and effective, according to findings published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Patients also appreciated the privacy and convenience of receiving their abortion mediation that way, researchers said.

These results come as the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a case that could end the practice of mailing abortion pills to patients.

“The study provides additional evidence that the abortion medication mifepristone should be treated like every other medication and can be easily dispensed by pharmacists, including through a mail-order pharmacy,” researcher Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, said in a news release. “Any attempt to restrict it is not based on science.”   

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved sending abortion pills through the mail during the COVID-19 pandemic -- first temporarily and then, based on the evidence of its safety, permanently.

Before then, women had to see a doctor at a clinic or hospital to get mifepristone, which is the first of two drugs used in medication abortion, researchers said.

But most doctors don't keep medications in their offices, which impeded access for women, researchers said.

“There is a lot of interest among gynecologists, as well as family medicine and internal medicine clinicians and pediatricians to be able to provide this care for their patients who need it,” Grossman said. “This model of care using a mail-order pharmacy can help them do that.”

Since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion, medication abortions have become increasingly common. Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. abortions in 2023 were done with medication, researchers said.

For the study, researchers analyzed the experiences of 510 people who received mifepristone, which works by blocking progesterone, a hormone needed to continue pregnancy.

In a medication abortion, a second drug called misoprostol is taken one to two days later to bring on contractions.

Patients received the drugs between January 2020 and May 2022 after being seen at abortion and primary care clinics in seven states -- California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Nearly 98% of the patients had complete abortions, and no adverse events were related to mail-order pharmacy dispensing, the study found.

More than 85% of patients received the medication within one to three days, a timeframe that 94% of participants called reasonable.

Nearly 97% said they were satisfied with mail-order dispensing, and nearly all said their confidentiality was maintained throughout shipping and delivery.

The current lawsuit before the Supreme Court would roll back regulations allowing mifepristone to be provided through the mail. The court heard arguments in March, and is expected to issue a ruling in June.

The findings were published May 13.

More information

Planned Parenthood has more about medication abortion.

SOURCE: University of California-San Francisco, news release, May 13, 2024

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