Imagine you need an abortion. Instead of taking time off work, arranging for childcare, and driving 200 miles to the nearest clinic for an appointment weeks away–especially now that it’s slammed with patients from nearby ban states–you could receive the two-drug regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol in the mail and get safe and effective health care in the privacy of your own home. But if a conservative Texas judge gets his way, abortion could get even more complicated.
The fall of Roe v. Wade last summer brought an onslaught of outright bans and new restrictions that have severely exacerbated already harrowing barriers to reproductive care. But unlike for much of the pre-Roe era, we now have widely available abortion pills that have dramatically expanded access. This treatment has been shown to be incredibly safe and effective for abortions when taken in the first 11 weeks of pregnancy. Moreover, new telemedicine clinics have made it possible for more patients to receive supportive, affordable, and discreet abortion care.
As the cofounder and CEO of Hey Jane, the leading virtual clinic offering telemedicine abortion care, I’m no stranger to responding to cruel and groundless attacks on reproductive rights and abortion access. Just eight months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we’re faced with another pending court case that threatens to overturn the FDA’s long-standing approval of mifepristone. The lawsuit, brought forth in Texas by anti-abortion extremists, argues that the FDA overstepped its authority when it first approved the drug all the way back in 2000. It is both disconnected from the will of the American people (7 in 10 Americans oppose laws that would prevent access to medication abortion) and completely disregards the fundamental facts at hand (studies have shown mifepristone to be incredibly safe time and time again).
If the case succeeds, mifepristone may be temporarily banned nationally, even in states where medication abortion is legal, and a ruling (which will almost certainly be appealed) is expected any day now. Yes, a single conservative judge in Texas may once again be making decisions that directly affect medical care across the country, placing it in the hands of courts instead of doctors and pregnant people. Trump-appointed federal judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk has previously ruled against protecting access to LGBTQ+ health care and vaccines and contraceptives and has been outspoken in his views against abortion.
For many people, medication abortion is the best and sometimes the only option, which is why it now accounts for more than half of all abortions in the U.S. and why abortion opponents are trying so hard to prevent people from accessing it. After the 2021 FDA ruling allowing abortion pills to be mailed, the number of medication abortions has only continued to rise. In fact, it was this ruling that allowed for telemedicine clinics like Hey Jane to provide care. Since launching in 2021, we’ve provided mifepristone to more than 25,000 patients as part of our abortion care protocol.
Medication abortion is safe
The reality is medication abortion has been around for longer than many of the judges making decisions about its safety have been practicing law. Mifepristone was first developed by French researchers in the 1980s. Countries like China, Great Britain, and Sweden all legalized the medication abortion regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol in the late ’80s and early ’90s, with the U.S. following suit in 2000.
Study after study has shown that mifepristone is safe and has a lower adverse reaction rate than Tylenol, with less than 1 out of every 100 people experiencing a serious complication. One look at the research and it’s obvious that targeting mifepristone under the guise of “protecting the health, safety and welfare of all Americans by rejecting or limiting the use of dangerous drugs,” as the lawsuit states, is, quite frankly, a sham.
We’re facing another baseless attack
This attack is not rooted in science or safety but rather is another transparent attempt to limit options for people seeking abortion care, with a disproportionate impact on people of color, low-income individuals, and other historically marginalized communities. Anti-abortion activists understand that medication abortion can be more affordable and easier to access than in-person clinics—and that’s exactly why they’re doing this.
With Hey Jane, patients complete an intake form online and hear back from one of our providers within 24 hours. If eligible for medication abortion, our providers will prescribe the medication that will be shipped directly to the patient. From there, the patient has access at the tap of a button to our clinical care team for both emotional and medical support. Any barrier to receiving this care can place unnecessary burdens on patients. With access to reproductive health care already in crisis following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this potential reality is a frustrating and infuriating one to face.
It’s also worth noting the broader implications of this case. If a court is able to reverse FDA-approval on mifepristone, what does that mean for other crucial medications in reproductive health care like birth control, emergency contraception, and hormone therapy? And when will lawmakers and judges stop ignoring the realities established by science and medicine?
We will continue to provide abortion care
If there’s one thing we know as medication abortion providers and advocates, it’s how to pivot in the face of adversity. We’ve always had to adjust to changing regulations and landscapes, and we remain resolute in our commitment to providing compassionate and expert care to all individuals seeking abortion services.
In the event of a temporary ban on mifepristone, Hey Jane will switch to misoprostol-only medication abortions—which have also been shown to be both safe and effective.
No matter the outcome in the Texas court case, we will continue to connect patients with options that protect their health.
Join us in the fight
As we brace for a decision, the best thing we can do is continue talking about abortion, sharing the facts, removing the stigma, and raising awareness of its safety. Only 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. know that medication abortion even exists. You can help us spread the word about this safe, effective option by connecting to our Un-Whisper Network and using your personal platforms to share this information with your community.
Another great way to support abortion access is to donate to one of many abortion funds that help people receive the financial aid they need for treatment.
It’s impossible to say what the future of reproductive health care looks like, but one thing I know for sure is that no attack on individual liberty will stop us in our fight for high-quality abortion access for everyone.
Kiki Freedman is the CEO and Co-founder of Hey Jane, the most-trusted virtual clinic offering telemedicine abortion care. Previously, she was an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co and an early employee at Uber, where she led market launches in Kenya, Sweden and South Africa. She has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSBA from Washington University with double majors in Economics and Global Health.