In states that have banned abortion, some women with unwanted pregnancies are pursuing an unconventional workaround: They are “self-managing” their abortions, seeking out the necessary know-how online and obtaining the medications without the supervision of a clinic or a doctor.
At first glance, the practice may recall the days before Roe v. Wade, when women too often were forced to take risky measures to end an unwanted pregnancy. But the advent of medication abortion — accomplished with drugs, rather than in-office procedures — has transformed reproductive care, posing a significant challenge to anti-abortion legislation.
Even before the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, medication abortions accounted for more than half of abortions in the United States. Federal regulators made access to the pills even easier during the pandemic by dropping the requirement for an in-person visit and allowing the drugs to be mailed to patients after a virtual appointment.