Women Stockpile Abortion Medication As Bans Loom

According to new research, thousands of American women, mostly affluent whites, have been stocking up on abortion pills just in case states make it harder to obtain them, the Associated Press reported.

In a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine on January 2, doctors reviewed requests for mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs used in medication abortions, from women who were not pregnant and sought the pills through the European online telemedicine service Aid Access.

From September 2021 to August 2023, Aid Access received around 48,400 requests from American women for “advance provision,” meaning the women were not pregnant at the time of the request but wanted the pills on hand just in case.

The “advance provision” requests spiked in May 2022 immediately after Politico broke the story about the leaked draft opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia that suggested that the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade.

At that time, the average number of daily requests from the US skyrocketed nearly tenfold, from around 25 a day in the eight months before the May 2 Politico report to 247 a day after the story was published.

In US states where abortion was expected to be banned once Roe was overturned, the weekly average requests increased by nearly ninefold.

Following the June 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe, daily requests for abortion pills fell to 89 nationally. However, in April 2023 when federal courts issued conflicting rulings on the FDA’s approval of mifepristone, daily requests jumped to 172.

According to Aid Access director Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who co-authored the research, the spike in requests was due to greater public awareness coupled with the uncertainty of the medication’s future access.

The researchers also found that a large proportion of the requests for “advance provision” were from urban, affluent white women at least 30 years old who had no children.

San Francisco OB-GYN Dr. Daniel Grossman told the Associated Press that those who face barriers to abortion care, particularly poor minorities, aren’t aware that they can order the abortion pills just in case they need them rather than waiting until they are pregnant to try to obtain them.