Aid Access allows those who are less than ten weeks pregnant, living within one hour of a hospital, and being of normal health order abortion pills by mail in the United States.
The United States is rapidly changing, and the ongoing battle over abortion access is quickly evolving along with it. With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many women around the country are fearfully anticipating a repeal of Roe v. Wade, the case that declared abortion a constitutional right in 1973. In this time of fear and uncertainty, comes in Aid Access, an organization that gives women a way to perform their own medication-induced abortions at home. Now, amidst the ever more present fear of losing their reproductive rights, American women can easily receive abortion pills in the mail.
The service was launched six months ago, but it only recently received widespread media attention after a report in The Atlantic. Aid Access works like this: you go on to aidaccess.org, fill out a consultation, and assuming you meet the criteria—being less than ten weeks pregnant, living within one hour of a hospital, and being of normal health—you receive abortion pills in the mail for a total cost of $95. For those who can’t pay that much, the website claims that it can help with funding. The service’s founder, a Dutch physician named Rebecca Gompert, claims to fill out all of the prescriptions for abortion pills herself. She sends the prescriptions off to a trusted pharmacy in India that ships the pills to women in their homes in the United States.
The pills themselves are a combination of two drugs; Mifepristone, which blocks the hormones needed for a pregnancy to continue, and Misoprostol, which induces the miscarriage. It’s a standard mix around the world, and not only are these pills FDA approved, but even the World Health Organization considers them essential medicines. In countries where abortion is illegal, Gompert has been providing women with this same mix of abortion pills for years through a different platform called Women on Web. When speaking to CNN, she estimated that Women on Web mails about 9,000 abortion pill packages each year. Shipments go to Ireland, Poland, Latin America, and US military bases abroad, to name a few.
Women on Web doesn’t, and never has, shipped to the US. In America, abortions (and these abortion pills) are legal. But there’s a catch. The Mifepristone and Misoprostol pills have to be distributed by a qualified health professional, and can’t be dispensed at a pharmacy with a prescription. This makes them inaccessible to a large portion of American women. Realizing this, and responding to an overwhelming demand for her service in the United States, Gompert created Aid Access as a separate entity to Women on Web. The US site is separate and under a different name because of her fear that prominent American pro-life groups would try to shut down the whole international operation.
Her fear was evidently valid. Pro-life groups around the country are already rallying against Aid Access. But even those who aren’t pro-life find themselves wondering whether Aid Access is safe, or even legal. There are currently seven states that prohibit self-managed abortions, and bringing in undeclared pills to the US from a foreign country could, in some cases, qualify as criminal activity. Despite CNN breaking the news that the FDA is opening an investigation into the service “to assess potential violations of US law,” Gompert isn’t worried. Not only does she insist that everything that she does is legal, she is proud of her work and strives to change the world with it. “I hope that with exposing the restriction to access this will eventually lead to better policies and better access,” said Gompert to CNN. “So that I don’t have to provide this service anymore.”