Ahead of SCOTUS Case, Studies Show Abortion Pill Use is on the Rise

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In the first complete year following the overturn of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, medication abortion rose sharply, according to new data from sexual and reproductive health research group, Guttmacher Institute. Released last week, the Institute’s Monthly Abortion Provision Study indicates that use of medication abortion within the formal health care system in the US has risen from about half, (53%) of all abortions in 2020 to nearly two-thirds (63%) of all abortions in 2023.

“As abortion restrictions proliferate post-Dobbs, medication abortion may be the most viable option—or the only option—for some people, even if they would have preferred in-person procedural care,” Rachel Jones, Guttmacher principal research scientist, said in a statement. “Every person deserves access to abortion care on their terms and according to their needs and preferences—whether that care is via telemedicine, an in-person visit or outside the formal health care system.”

More widely, the study also found that, in 2023, there were an estimated 1,026,690 abortions in the formal US health care system and a rate of 15.7 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age. This represents a 10% increase in the overall number of abortions from 2020 and is the highest number and rate of abortions measured in the United States in more than a decade.

While the Guttmacher Institute data reported in this study only accounts for people who received medication abortions through the formal health care system across the United States, abortion pills are available outside the healthcare system, via online pharmacies, community networks, mail-order pharmacies. Earlier this month, CVS and Walgreens announced that they would begin dispensing mifepristone, one of two medication abortion pills, in its stores in states where abortion is permitted.

A report published Monday from medical journal JAMA, shows that the number of abortions using pills obtained outside the formal health system rose sharply in the six months after the national right to abortion was overturned.

The JAMA research shows that while abortions obtained through formal healthcare declined by about 32,000 from July through December 2022, roughly 26,000 abortions via pills provided by sources outside the formal health system largely offset that number. “Results suggest that a substantial number of abortion seekers accessed services despite the implementation of state-level bans and restrictions,” the report stated.

“We see what we see elsewhere in the world in the US — that when anti-abortion laws go into effect, oftentimes outside of the formal health care setting is where people look, and the locus of care gets shifted,” Dr. Abigail Aiken, lead author of the JAMA study told The New York Times.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear a case in which the plaintiffs, who oppose abortion, are suing the Food and Drug Administration, seeking to block or drastically limit the availability of abortion pill mifepristone.

Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue