It is still legal in most states to receive abortion medication by mail, which has been allowed since December 2021, when the Food and Drug Administration lifted a restriction that required patients to obtain the pills from a certified provider.
There are 19 states that had already prohibited the use of telehealth to prescribe abortion medication by requiring prescribers to be present when the drugs are administered.
The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, found that in 2020, medication abortion — a two-pill regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol — accounted for over half of all abortions.
The end of Roe v. Wade will make little immediate difference on access to these medications, though legal experts say that could change as more trigger laws are certified.
Some telemedicine companies are bracing for anti-abortion trigger laws to take effect, but vow to continue mailing medication in the interim.
Dr. Julie Amaon, medical director of Just The Pill, a company that delivers abortion medication to people in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and Minnesota, said they will continue to serve clients in all four states until Wyoming’s trigger law is certified. If that happens, their clients in Wyoming will need to travel to receive care.
“The way it will work is if your state of residence bans access to medication abortion, you can travel to another safe state to have a telehealth appointment,” Dr. Amaon said. “You would then get the medication by pick-up at our mobile clinic or if you are in a state without mobile clinics, you would wait 1-2 days to have the medication mailed to a pick-up location.”
Aid Access, a European service that has continued to send pills to women in the U.S. regardless of the laws in their state, is likely to be unaffected by the recent decision. Anti-abortion lawmakers are generally wary of punishing individuals seeking an abortion, said Mary Zeigler, a law professor at University of California Davis. They tend to focus on clinicians and prescribers who aid the patient seeking an abortion, but overseas providers operate in extralegal channels outside the reach of state lawmakers.
“There’s not going to be an easy enforcement mechanism there,” said Ms. Ziegler “But it’s worth emphasizing, whatever answers I’m giving for today, may not be true tomorrow, the bans are just the tip of the iceberg.”