Online services provide abortion pills, contraceptives in the U.S.

Photo by Erin Edgerton

Jessica Cruz

Contributing Writer

Online service Aid Access provides abortion pills through the mail to women in the U.S., helping hundreds since its initiation seven months ago.

Founder of Aid Access Rebecca Gomperts originally developed a website called Women on Waves in 2005 to help women who do not have steady access to abortion services in their home countries. After years of not shipping to the U.S., Gomperts created Aid Access as a separate entity to protect Women on Waves from getting shut down by the U.S.

A number of companies have already established services for patients to order birth control online, including HeyDoctor, Nurx, Pandia Health and Planned Parenthood Care.

Aid Access allows women to have at-home abortions after an online consultation. Gomperts then prescribes women the pill and sends the prescription to a trusted pharmacy in India, from which the pills are shipped to the patients.

“For her to think that the most appropriate way to extend this service to women in the U.S. is to create a whole new company, I think that says a lot about the U.S. government in itself,” said VCU sophomore Serena Feghali. “The current people in office are very passionate about having as little government intervention as possible. However, when it comes to things that they don’t agree with, all of a sudden government intervention becomes important to them.”

The service costs $95. However, the website states that the group tries to help cover the cost if the patient does not have the means to pay for the drug. Regardless, the cost is less than the price of an abortion within the U.S., which can reach up to about $900 depending on factors which include how far along the pregnancy is, whether a patient has insurance that covers abortions and where the patient lives.

“I think $95 is a lot more affordable and can be beneficial for people who cannot afford to take off a day from work for the procedure…[or] travel [and pay for] childcare or hotel rooms,” said Malena Llanos, president of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at VCU. “As long as there are not any strings attached and they end up getting stuck paying more later. If the pills don’t work or put a damper on someone’s health, who pays for that? It could be a cycle.”

In an interview with The Atlantic, Gomperts said the Food and Drug Administration lets people bring medicines from foreign manufacturers for personal use. The pills sent to patients are misoprostol and mifepristone, the same drugs prescribed to women seeking medical abortions in the U.S. Misoprostol instigates contractions, while mifepristone blocks progesterone — a hormone needed to carry out a pregnancy.

“On paper it sounds like a great idea,” Llanos said. “Especially with how [technology] is making things more accessible like deleting the whole cost of going to a doctor in person.”

More information, including an extensive Q&A section addressing a variety of topics from general inquiries to post-abortion care, can be found at aidaccess.org.

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