In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion laws across the country are rapidly changing. It’s estimated that abortion will end up being banned or severely restricted in about half of US states.
This is not the law offices of Let’s, Eat, and Cake, so we can’t provide any legal advice about your specific situation. If you have questions about the abortion laws in your state, contact the Repro Legal Helpline. And, check Abortion Finder’s state-by-state guide for the latest information about your state’s abortion laws and to keep an eye on how this dumpster fire of a situation evolves.
But, if you’re in a state where abortion is now banned or severely restricted, we do want you to know you still have options if you want or need to get an abortion. Here’s how.
States That Have Abortion Bans Or Are Scheduled to Have Them Soon
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Some other states have laws that are triggered by the overturning, or have pre-Roe laws on the books that may make abortion illegal or severely restrict abortion. And, some have restrictions so severe that it essentially makes abortion illegal, like Ohio’s ban on abortions after six weeks.
How to Get Abortion Pills
More than half of abortions in the US are medication abortion. This method is effective for terminating pregnancies up to 10-12 weeks with a 95-98% success rate.
The pills can cause intense cramping and heavy bleeding and do carry some risks, but before the new SCOTUS ruling, you would go to a health facility to get the prescription and then take the pills at home in the privacy of your own bathroom.
Abortion pills may be the most accessible option in states where abortion is illegal or severely restricted. There are different ways to get the pills, from the legal to the legally gray to the legally very-dark-charcoal. We’ll walk through that range below.
There weren’t a ton of great things that happened in 2020, but the increase in telehealth options was one. This increased the accessibility of medical care, and it means abortion pills can be remotely prescribed.
In April 2021, the FDA starting allowing the pills to be mailed to patients without an in-person visit due to the pandemic and made that decision permanent in December 2021.
Unfortunately, most states that ban or severely restrict abortion don’t allow for telehealth medicine for the procedure. There will probably be legal battles about whether states are allowed to restrict the distribution of medication approved by the FDA, since the FDA is a federal agency and federal rules preempt state ones.
For now, there are still organizations providing telehealth abortions, even in states where it’s illegal.
For instance, Aid Access Telehealth will have a doctor based in Amsterdam prescribe the pills and ship them to the patient from a pharmacy in India.
Another option seekers may consider is using mail forwarding or a virtual mailbox. They could use a service like PostScan Mail to set up a virtual mailbox in a state where the procedure is legal and available by telehealth and provide that address in their contact section. The doctor would ship the pills to the virtual mailbox for forwarding.
2. Self-Managed Abortions
Abortion pills are prescription medications in the US. However, it’s possible to have a self-managed abortion where you get the pills without a prescription and take them on your own without a medical professional’s oversight. This is a riskier option, especially depending on your medical history.
Many online pharmacies provide the pills. They cost $195-$470 and shipping can take a few days to two weeks. Generally, online pharmacies ship generic versions of the abortion pills made in India. These pharmacies are not regulated by the FDA, but organizations like Plan C order from the pharmacies and test the pills they receive to confirm that what they’re sending is legit.
Check Plan C’s list for the best options that ship to your state.
Some seekers find it easier to go to a pharmacy in Mexico to get the abortion pills. Mifepristone is only available by prescription in Mexico, but misoprostol is available over the counter.
The World Health Organization recommends using misoprostol on its own if mifepristone isn’t accessible.
People that need support during a self-managed abortion can contact the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline. If you need medical help and go to a healthcare facility, advocates recommend that you only say you are having a miscarriage and do not tell any medical providers that you took abortion pills.
Lying to a medical professional, however, is not generally a good idea. So, use your best judgment.
If your pregnancy is further along than 12 weeks and you can’t use the abortion pills, you will need to go to a clinic for an abortion procedure. The most common in-clinic abortion procedure is a vacuum aspiration, or suction abortion. The procedure can be done up to 14-16 weeks.
After 16 weeks, providers use the dilation and evacuation procedure. This uses suction and medical tools to empty the uterus. How late in the pregnancy these procedures can be performed varies by state and by clinic, but is generally no later than 24-26 weeks.
In-clinic procedures are generally not available in states where abortion is illegal. Unfortunately, the states that are banning or severely restricting abortion are large and close together, meaning there are large geographical areas where there are no clinics for hundreds of miles.
Can You Travel to Get An Abortion?
If you can’t get an abortion in your state, time to consider planning your “camping” trip. Reach out to a clinic in a nearby state or a state you can easily travel to. Ideally, you would travel with a support person or travel to a support person’s state. If you have to get anesthesia for the procedure, the clinic may require that you have a non-Uber driver to pick you up.
There aren’t currently any laws against traveling out of state for an abortion…but Missouri is already trying.
On July 8, 2022, President Biden signed an executive order that will convene pro bono attorneys and organizations to help those crossing state lines to seek an abortion and mobile clinics being set up at state borders.
When traveling, consider that there can be unforeseen delays getting to your appointment or you may have to reschedule due to medical issues, like low blood pressure. Take this into consideration and choose your clinic or state accordingly.
Some states also have restrictions that can make your procedure take longer than necessary, such as a waiting period between seeing the doctor and actually getting the procedure.
States with the fewest restrictions on abortion are:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- >New Mexico
- New York
If your best option is to go to a state where you don’t have a support person, you can also reach out to practical support organizations. They help people with the practical needs of the procedure, such as a ride to and from the clinic, overnight housing, or funding for travel.
Apiary for Practical Support provides a listing of practical support organizations by state. The Brigid Alliance is a national practical support organization that can help or connect you with a local organization. Your clinic may have resources to help or referrals to local practical support organizations.
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