surge in requests to send abortion pills from abroad

The study also shows that the average travel time for American women to a clinic performing abortions was 28 minutes before the Supreme Court ruling, compared to 1 hour and 40 minutes after.

Since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal right to abortion, requests from American women to have abortion pills mailed from abroad have risen sharply in the United States, according to a study published on Tuesday.

This work, published in the scientific journal JAMA, analyzed the number of requests to the paying telemedicine service Aid Access, which prescribes and sends abortion pills from abroad to 30 American states.

It operates outside the American healthcare system, and was specifically designed to circumvent prohibitions or local access difficulties, by allowing women to abort alone at home.

An increase of about 160%

From the end of June, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, many states made abortion illegal or severely restricted it.

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling, Aid Access was receiving an average of 83 daily requests from these 30 states. But in the two months since the decision was announced, that number jumped to 213 per day, according to the study – an increase of around 160%.

As a proportion of the female population in each state, the increase was greatest for applications from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and Oklahoma. These five states are among those that have completely banned abortions.

Lack of medical support

The “current legal restrictions” were often cited by women using this service, in a questionnaire they had to fill in when applying. In states that have made abortions illegal, this answer was cited in about 62% of cases after the Supreme Court decision, compared to 31% before.

This study also does not take into account other ways to access these pills, which are easy to find for a few hundred dollars on commercial websites – but without medical support.

Difficulties accessing clinics

Another study, also published this Tuesday in the journal JAMA, studied the travel time for American women to a clinic performing abortions. This duration averaged 28 minutes before the Supreme Court’s decision, and increased considerably, to 1 hour and 40 minutes, after. But this national average hides strong local disparities.

In states that have implemented a total ban on abortion or a limit to 6 weeks of pregnancy, the average increase in travel time was 4 hours, according to this study.

Lack of access to an abortion clinic is particularly a problem “for people who cannot afford to travel”, the authors pointed out.

In the 100 days following the Supreme Court ruling, at least 66 clinics have stopped performing abortions, according to a report in early October from the Guttmacher Institute.

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