Abortion Pills for the Not Currently Pregnant
Should we keep them around, just in case?
As threats to access pile up across the US, it’s no surprise people are worried about having a hard time getting abortion pills when they need them. They’re starting to ask whether it makes sense instead to stash some abortion pills in their medicine cabinet just to avoid that worry.
Obviously, this isn’t as easy as stocking up on bread or tampons, but it raises some of the same questions, like how much to get and where to store it. Since abortion pills should remain good for about two years as long as they’re unopened and not exposed to extreme heat, cold, or moisture, there’s probably no need to hoard large amounts of mifepristone and/or misoprostol. After all, we all learned from our pandemic experience with toilet paper that buying a lot of something you might need later can create a shortage for someone who needs it right now.
Unlike other staples, though, people who want to stock up on abortion pills need to consider how to get it. Even with expanded telemedicine access to abortion, health care providers in the US typically prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol only to people who are already pregnant. While that’s leading some people to get the medications outside of the clinical context, there’s no reason doctors shouldn’t be able to prescribe them in advance.
We’re aware of one doctor outside the US who will write an advance prescription and send it to an online pharmacy, which will then deliver the abortion pills by mail. This service costs $100 to $150, depending on where the recipient lives, and is available in all 50 states. A researcher at the University of California – San Francisco who tested this recently received the medications in just four days.
This doesn’t solve the problem of increasing restrictions on access to abortion care, but if people have accurate, up-to-date information about using them, an emergency stash of abortion pills seems like it could be one of those things it’s better to have and not need than need and not have.