In the state of Texas between 2013 and 2016, more than half of the state’s 41 clinics offering abortion services shut down. Texas is where TRAP laws, or the targeted regulation of abortion clinics, originated. Expensive, medically unnecessary requirements instated under the false premise that abortion — which you’re actually 40 times less likely to die from than a colonoscopy — is dangerous have forced dozens upon dozens of clinics across the nation to shut down as a result of limited funding, often in states where clinics were already sparse.
As early as 2012, even before TRAP laws began to mercilessly sweep across rural America, 87 percent of counties in the country lacked a clinic providing abortion services.
The closure of these clinics has yielded “abortion deserts,” or large regions without access to a single clinic, across the country, but primarily in rural America.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled TRAP laws unconstitutional, but the hundreds of clinics closed over the past years aren’t going to be reopened over night — many of them probably won’t reopen at all due to limited funding.
The rise of the abortion pill marks a turning point, as advocates are now pushing for medication abortion to be made available in the mainstream. Research has found medication abortion to be as safe, if not safer, than surgical abortion, with higher than a 95 percent success rate in the first trimester of pregnancy.
And for women without the resources to cross abortion deserts and have the procedure, advocates working with the Plan C organization want to see medication abortion available on Amazon delivered right to women’s doorsteps, according to a Christian Science Monitor report about the group’s plans for expanding abortion pill access published on Wednesday.
Different states have different laws governing the use of medication abortion, although the Food and Drug Administration just last year significantly loosened restrictions around the pill, allowing for lower dosages and fewer visits with a doctor. In most cases, purchasing medication abortion online requires telemedicine appointments with a doctor before use.
“You would get it delivered to your house. And it would come with information and also the option to have a telemedicine consult if you wanted it,” Amy Merrill, Plan C’s communications director. “And otherwise you would have everything that you need to [administer] self care.”
“We are not pushing this on anyone. We just really believe it should be an option,” Merrill added.
Medication abortion is composed of two pills, one of mifepristone and the other of misoprostol, which work together to negate the hormones necessary to maintain a pregnancy.
At the end of the day, women bear the burden of abortion deserts — many are forced to travel sometimes across the state, sometimes to another state, find lodging, and take time off work just to have the procedure. For the low-income women who can’t afford this process, many are injured in attempted self-terminations. Abortion deserts aren’t just inconvenient — they’re dangerous. Increasing the availability of medication abortion has become necessary to protect women and guarantee their reproductive options after years of a conservative-led crusade on clinics.
Most recently, California state lawmakers have been leading efforts to make medication and surgical abortions more available on state public colleges despite myriad of legislative challenges around publicly funding abortion. Giving women of all socioeconomic backgrounds, reproductive options, especially as they pursue education and careers isn’t just the moral thing to do — it’s also a good investment.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the goal of Plan C is to see the abortion pill become as accessible, mainstream, and destigmatized as the morning after pill. That’s not to say the morning after pill in itself doesn’t have barriers to access and isn’t also mired in stigma, but you get the point.
To groups like Plan C, technology is the future of protecting reproductive rights. And if conservatives are shocked, uncomfortable, even disgusted by the idea of abortions being available on Amazon, they have themselves and their sneaky, anti-woman laws to thank — they’ve forced abortion rights advocates to get creative to protect women’s rights and, well, this is what they’ve come up with.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.