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Advocates are seeing “huge increase in demand” for abortion pills

▶ Watch Video: Medication abortions: Next battleground in the fight over abortion rights

Medication abortions, which rely on pills to terminate a pregnancy instead of surgery, could be the next battleground if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. 

The two-pill combination, used together to terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks, is the most popular abortion option. In 2020, it made up more than half of all U.S. abortions, according to a report issued by the Guttmacher Institute.

Abortion advocates tell CBS News that since Politico published a leaked draft opinion that suggested the Supreme Court appeared ready to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, they have seen a spike in interest in abortion pills. 

“We’re seeing a huge increase in demand,” Christie Pitney said. 

Pitney is a telehealth abortion provider licensed to prescribe abortion pills in five states and the District of Columbia. 

Nineteen states banned the use of telemedicine for abortion, requiring a clinician to be present when the woman takes the medication. 

This includes South Dakota, where two appointments are required for a medication abortion — one for the initial consultation and one to receive the medication.   

Some lawmakers want to mandate three appointments — the consultation and one for each of the medications. 

“It is already a very huge lift to have these women come back for two appointments, come back after their informed consent, and then asking them to come back and asking them to come back to finish taking that medication that they have been taking at home safely for years and there’s no medical reason,” one clinic director told CBS News.  

In other cases, women are using overseas providers like Aid Access in Austria, which sends the medication from pharmacies in India. Pitney works with that group and says interest has soared with women who want to get the pills prescribed now, not because they need them, but just in case they do in the future. 

“Monday, we had 1,290 visitors to the Access website and then on Tuesday we had 38,530 visitors, so pretty significant,” Pitney said. 



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