Abortion pills save lives.
For years, the pills have been a lifeline in countries where abortion is outlawed. According to the World Health Organization, every year, more than 21 million women have unsafe abortions worldwide. Without any other alternatives available, desperate women with unwanted pregnancies will ram sharp objects into their uteruses, guzzle drug cocktails and visit unsafe, back-alley abortion clinics.
They’re a godsend even in regions where abortion isn’t entirely outlawed. Rather than having invasive surgical instruments shoved up their vaginas, women can simply swallow a few small pills — pills that are proven to be even safer than Tylenol and are extremely effective for early pregnancy termination.
In parts of the U.S., where crusty old white men are making access to abortion more and more restricted, the combination of medications known as misoprostol and mifepristone have been making their way into the black markets.
In southern Texas, for example, underground vendors will cross the national border into Mexico — where the pills are legally sold as “ulcer medication” — buy them up from the pharmacies, and sell them at local flea markets.
There’s also a booming online marketplace. A Google search to buy abortion pills will return countless online pharmacies. However, the prices can be absurdly high, with just one pill costing up to $60. What’s worse, the pills could easily be counterfeit.
The group has committed its time and resources to identifying fraudulent online pharmacies, ordering from hundreds of online sellers, and creating an exhaustive list of sites notorious for selling counterfeit medications and sites that never deliver.
Researchers recently became determined to find out just how prevalent phony abortion pills have become. One study, published in the journal Contraception last month, reveals their findings after ordering 20 abortion pill packs online.
Generally, the products cost about $200 to $300 — less than the average cost to have a clinic abortion in the United States. Delivery took an average of 10 days, which is a long time to wait while an uninvited creature saps up the nutrients inside of you. Two of the packages never showed. None of the packages came with instructions for use.
However, all of the pills were real. “Given our findings, we expect that some people for whom clinic-based abortion is not easily available or acceptable may consider self-sourcing pills from the internet to be a rational option,” the researchers wrote.
Of course, just because it’s possible to order the pills, doesn’t mean it’s strictly legal. In 39 states, it’s illegal for anyone other than a medical provider to perform an abortion. In states like Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Idaho, criminal charges have actually been brought against women who used abortion pills to end their own pregnancies.
Abortion pills have been applauded as the most important advance in reproductive health since the discovery of oral contraceptives. Knowing that women who are early in their unwanted pregnancy (less than 10 weeks) and can’t access a local clinic can still find safe, effective abortion methods online, is comforting.
With all the abortion scams out there, we needed this one win.