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

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Since 2020, the prevalence of medical abortions – triggered by the so-called abortion pill – has increased by 10%.

Medical abortions accounted for 63% of all abortions performed in the United States in 2023, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization headquartered in New York.

Some 642,700 medical abortions were performed last year.

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The data comes from the monthly Guttmacher Abortion Study, which tracks the estimated number of abortions performed statewide and nationwide.

What is medical abortion?

With medical abortion, a woman ends her pregnancy by taking two different medications – mifepristone and misoprostol – over a period of a few days, according to the Yale Medicine website.

Hand holding an abortion pill at a Kansas City clinic

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

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

The second drug, misoprostol, triggers contractions and starts the miscarriage process. This process usually takes between 12 and 24 hours.

The abortion pill was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2000. It can be administered in the First 10 weeks of pregnancy.

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

Fourteen states have banned the prescription of mifepristone.

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

Why have medical abortions increased?

“Increased reliance on medications is, to some extent, likely the result of abortion bans in 14 states,” Rachel K. Jones, a senior scholar at the Guttmacher Institute, told Fox News Digital.

“In many states where abortion remains possible, medical abortion can be provided through telehealth, which can reduce the logistical and financial barriers that make it difficult for people to access care,” she continued.

Medicine bottles

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

“Some physical facilities are also able to provide medication abortions more efficiently, which is necessary to meet growing needs in states where people travel for care.”

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

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Monica Cepak, New York-based CEO of Wisp, an online provider of contraceptive pills and treatments, said the Wisp team expanded its medical abortion offerings after Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court in June 2022. The High Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization referred 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 says.

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

“To date, we have been able to provide an affordable telehealth option in nine states – while, more importantly, protecting our patient privacy” she told Fox News Digital.

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

Women's telehealth

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

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

“This is a substantial increase in medical abortions over a relatively short period of time,” she said.

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

“Between 2.9% and 4.6% of women taking this medication may need treatment in an emergency room.”

Technology and medicine “We worked together to give women a legitimate 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 medical abortions, according to Blondin.

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

Teenage girl with prescription

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

There may also be additional costs for women traveling to another state, she noted.

“It’s different than going to Walgreens or CVS and getting a prescription,” Blondin noted.

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

There are also programs available through the National Abortion Fund Network to provide financial assistance for the abortion pill.

Defenders of life denounce medical 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 “horrible tragedy.”

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“Federal law currently prohibits the mailing of abortion medications under the Comstock Act, and that law should be vigorously enforced,” she told Fox News Digital.

Rose also warned that medical abortions can pose a problem dangerous risk for women.

“Between 2.9% and 4.6% of women who take this medication may need treatment in the emergency room,” she told Fox News Digital.

Doctor with woman

“The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine has estimated that approximately one in 25 women taking mifepristone may need emergency care.” (iStock)

“Based on this data, the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine estimated that approximately one in 25 women taking mifepristone may need emergency care“.

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

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Yale Medicine said that while medical abortion is considered a “safe procedure,” rare complications can occur.

These include “pregnancy tissue left in the uterus, blood clots in the uterus, bleeding too much or too long, infection, or an ongoing pregnancy,” the website notes.

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