Abortion pill use has spiked in recent years, new report reveals: ‘Substantial increase’


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Since 2020, the prevalence of medication abortions — triggered by what’s known as the abortion pill — has risen 10%.

Medication abortions made up 63% of all abortions performed in the U.S. in 2023, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization headquartered in New York.

Some 642,700 medication abortions were performed last year.

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The data came from Guttmacher’s Monthly Abortion Provision Study, which monitors the estimated number of abortions performed on a state and national basis.

What is medication abortion?

With medication abortion, a woman terminates her pregnancy by taking two different medications — mifepristone and misoprostol — over a period of a couple of days, according to the Yale Medicine website.

This photo shows a patient preparing to take the first of two combination pills, mifepristone, for a medication abortion during a visit to a clinic in Kansas City in Oct. 2022.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The woman first takes a medication called mifepristone, which blocks the production of progesterone, a hormone that supports pregnancy.

The second medication, misoprostol, triggers contractions — and kickstarts the process of miscarriage. That process usually takes between 12 and 24 hours.

The abortion pill was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. It can be administered within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

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In states where procedural abortions are illegal, medication abortions may also be illegal.

Fourteen states have banned the prescription of mifepristone.

Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Why have medication abortions increased?

“The increased reliance on medication is, to some extent, likely a result of abortion being banned in 14 states,” Rachel K. Jones, principal research scientist at the Guttmacher Institute, told Fox News Digital.

“In many states where abortion remains available, medication abortion can be provided by telehealth, which can reduce the logistical and financial barriers that make it difficult for people to access care,” she went on. 

Drug bottles

Bottles of abortion pills mifepristone, left, and misoprostol, right, at a clinic in Des Moines, Iowa, Sept. 22, 2010.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

“Some brick-and-mortar facilities are also able to provide medication abortion more efficiently, which has been necessary to meet the growing need in states where people are traveling for care.” 

It is also likely that some people who would prefer a “procedural abortion” now have to rely on medication abortion because they don’t want to wait weeks for an appointment, Jones stated. 

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Monica Cepak, the New York-based CEO of Wisp, an online provider of birth control pills and treatments, said the Wisp team expanded its offering of medication abortions following the Supreme Court’s June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade. The high court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization returned the issue of abortion to the states.

The company currently ships the abortion pill to California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, Washington, New York and Maryland, its website states.

“There are disparities in health insurance for a procedural abortion. You have to visit the clinic and pay a doctor — it can be a substantial expense.”

“We were able to provide an affordable telehealth option in nine states to date — while, most importantly, protecting our patients’ privacy,” she told Fox News Digital.

Wisp saw a 527% increase in demand for its medical abortion services in 2023, Cepak noted. 

Woman telehealth

Regarding medication abortions, one company provides “an affordable telehealth option” in nine states while protecting its patients’ privacy, it said.  (iStock)

Audrey Blondin, a former attorney and adjunct professor in the Department of Population Health and Leadership at the University of New Haven, talked to Fox News Digital about the increase in medication abortions.

“This was a substantial increase in medication abortion over a relatively short period of time,” she said.

“I think this is a good example of ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way,’” she added, referring to the response that resulted when some states enacted bans against abortions.

“Between 2.9% and 4.6% of women who take the drug may require emergency room treatment.”

Technology and medicine have worked together to give women a rightful choice,” she said. “I always say your health care should not be determined by your zip code.”

Cost savings could be another reason for the rise in medication abortions, according to Blondin. 

“There are disparities in health insurance for a procedural abortion,” she said. “You have to visit the clinic and pay a doctor — it can be a substantial expense.”

Teen girl with prescription

A medication abortion typically costs around $800, according to the Planned Parenthood website, but some health insurance policies may cover it.  (iStock)

There may also be extra costs involved for women who travel to another state, she noted.

“That’s different from rolling over to Walgreens or CVS and getting a prescription,” Blondin noted.

A medication abortion typically costs around $800, according to the Planned Parenthood website, but some health insurance policies may cover it. 

There are also programs available via the National Network of Abortion Funds to provide financial assistance for the abortion pill.

Pro-life advocates speak out against medication abortions

Lila Rose, founder and president of the Virginia-based pro-life advocacy group Live Nation, said the rise of “the abortion pill” is a “horrific tragedy.” 

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“Federal law currently prohibits sending abortion drugs through the mail under the Comstock Act, and that law should be vigorously enforced,” she told Fox News Digital.

Rose also warned that medication abortions can pose a dangerous risk to women.

“Between 2.9% and 4.6% of women who take the drug may require emergency room treatment,” she told Fox News Digital. 

Doctor with woman

“The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine has estimated that roughly one in 25 women who take mifepristone may require emergency care.” (iStock)

“Based on this data, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine has estimated that roughly one in 25 women who take mifepristone may require emergency care.”

“The abortion pill, mifepristone, has killed millions of American children in a discriminatory and brutal way,” she added.

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Yale Medicine stated that while medication abortion is considered a “safe procedure,” some rare complications can occur.

Those include “pregnancy tissue being left in the uterus, blood clots in the uterus, bleeding too much or for too long, infection or an ongoing pregnancy,” the website noted.

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