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Tipsheet

Overseas Abortion Doctor Received ‘Huge Increase’ for Telemedicine Abortions From Women in U.S.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

A Dutch physician told ABC News this week that she has seen a spike in requests for “telemedicine abortions” from American women after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month.

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Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who is an abortion rights activist, founded Aid Access, a coaltion of pro-abortion doctors and advocates that work with abortion rights supporters in the United States to provide medication abortion pills. 

Medication abortions consist of two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol. The former stops the pregnancy from developing and the latter expels the pregnancy from the pregnant woman’s body.

Previously, Gomperts founded Women on Web, which is an online medication abortion service. Another organization she spearheaded is Women on Waves, which “[gives] women the tools to resist repressive cultures and laws” surrounding obtaining a medication abortion. She once received a “Women Making History” award from Planned Parenthood and the “Margaret Sanger Woman of Valor” award.

Pregnant women who utilize Aid Access can have medication abortion pills sent to their homes, even in countries where access to abortion-inducing drugs are restricted

Gomperts told ABC that she started receiving requests for medication abortion pills after the leaked draft opinion from the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was published. The draft opinion showed the justices ready to overturn Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

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“When the draft of the decision leaked, we already saw a huge increase in the amount of requests for the service indicating that people were really scared and panicking,” she told ABC News. “But I think what is more important is what I feel is that the enormous fear that we hear in the voices of the women or the parents.”

ABC noted that Aid Access saw hundreds of emails a day from the United States before Roe was overturned. Those numbers spike into the thousands the day the Supreme Court made its historic ruling.

Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, Aid Access would receive around 400 emails per day from the U.S. On June 24 -- the day the landmark ruling was struck down in the Supreme Court -- they received 4,000 emails, a record for the organization, and now comfortably see 1,000 emails per day, two and a half times more interest than before the draft leak, Gomperts said.

“I've been working in this field like creating different possibilities with different laws for more than 20 years,” Gomperts told ABC News. “But this service specifically, it's under my Austrian doctors license and in Austria it's allowed to provide abortion services or to write prescriptions for medication abortion up till 14 weeks of pregnancy. The conditions under which I do it are also allowed. Which is telemedicine.”

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Telemedicine abortions, as Rebecca covered, occur when a woman does not meet with a doctor in-person before taking the abortion pills. The FDA permanently lifted restrictions on telemedicine abortions last year.

I previously covered how Aid Access saw a spike in requests from the United States last year when Texas enacted a “heartbeat” abortion law, S.B. 8. The organization went from about 11 requests per day to 138 per day. Over the following three months after it took effect, Aid Access saw 174 percent more requests for “self-managed abortions” from Texas.

Three years ago, in a warning letter dated March 8, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration asked Aid Access to cease operations over the sale of "misbranded and unapproved new drugs."

The United States (U.S.) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently reviewed your website, http://www.aidaccess.org, and determined that you cause the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded and unapproved new drugs in violation of sections 301(a), 301(d), and 505(a) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) (21 U.S.C. §§ 331(a), 331(d), and 355(a)].

The sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products. Unapproved new drugs do not have the same assurance of safety and effectiveness as those drugs subject to FDA oversight. Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated; counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether.

FDA requests that you immediately cease causing the introduction of these violative drugs into U.S. commerce…FDA's regulation and oversight of the drug approval process protects consumers by requiring rigorous scientific standards for new drug approval, labeling review for accuracy and completeness, and manufacturing procedures and testing performed under closely controlled conditions at FDA-registered and inspected facilities. Sourcing drugs from outside of the legitimate U.S. drug supply chain can pose serious risks to patients who may receive medications that are adulterated and are not shipped and/or stored properly.

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