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Online abortion pill startups thrive amid new legal challenges

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Over the past few months, abortion pill startups have tried to keep up with the massive spike in demand as they navigate a tangled web of new regulation and privacy issues. Since the Supreme Court decision to undo Roe v. Wade first leaked in mayHey Jane, an online startup that supplies abortion pills in seven states, reported a tenfold increase in traffic to its website. And demand for its mail-order abortion drugs doubled, combining: misoprostol and mifepristone who can safely cause an abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy in the privacy of one’s home.

Along with Hey Jane, other telehealth abortion pill service providers such as Choix, Just the Pill, Abortion on Demand saw site traffic and interest explode anywhere from 600% to 2,000% after the fall of roe the end of June, according to axios. Before the Supreme Court ruling, more than half of abortions were through drug abortion, reports the Guttmacher Institute, which specializes in reproductive health policies. Now many states are trying to ban the telehealth services and even the pills themselves.

Last month, the Biden administration took regulatory action to try and prevent states from banning access to the mail-order abortion pill, declaring it outside the purview of states’ rights, given the Food and Drug Administration’s stance ( FDA) that it is safe and effective. , and does not have to be delivered in person at a pharmacy.

But the obscurity of federal law presents challenges. For example, a telehealth provider such as Abortion on Demand uses software that: confirm a patient’s physical location before they can make a telehealth appointment to get a mail order abortion pill. If they live in a state where access to the telehealth service itself is restricted, as 19 states had already done before the dobbs make a statementthey should find a way to travel to a state where such services are still allowed to use the digital platforms given the location verification requirement.

That barrier is made even greater given the relatively short period of time for receiving abortion medication, which is only allowed for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, just weeks after many women may even know they are pregnant. A period of just a few weeks to get to a site where access to telehealth abortion services is even legal is a complication in itself. in blue states where personal abortion remains relatively accessible to free up personal appointments for women who may need to travel across state lines for an appointment.

“While we have geographic expansion plans in the works (we recently expanded into New Jersey and will soon be expanding to Connecticut), our top priority is to accommodate the significant increase in demand in the states we currently reside in,” Freedman said. londonbusinessblog.com in a statement by e-mail.

That could be an increasingly important effort as more states try to ban access to abortion-inducing drugs and telehealth appointments for such services, or allow relatives of drug recipients to sue the drug suppliers. Those legislative efforts are fueled in part by anti-abortion groups such as the National Right to Life Committee and Life of America, which have drafted template legislation to limit access, the Washington Post reports. And red state lawmakers are heeding the call of these activist groups — South Carolina lawmakers, for example, have already enacted the “model law” concocted by the National Right to Life after the dobbs pronunciation.

“Hey Jane is currently in states where telemedicine abortion will remain legal, and we are strategically positioned in these 7 states which are responsible for most of the abortion volume nationwide after Roe and receiving an influx of patients who have to travel to concern now that Roe has been overthrown,” says Freedman, adding that helping overburdened personal clinics by targeting those who would benefit from drug-induced abortion is a top priority for the startup.

These efforts will undeniably become critical for a growing number of women as anti-abortion laws come into effect in the coming months and years. But the emerging women’s health firms in the space may need to build more trust with those they serve, given privacy concerns about such sensitive and personal information. For example, the layout reported last month that Hey Jane advertises its services on Google and Facebook and was found using pixel trackers and visitor data which was then sent to analytics companies, payment processors and major search engines, and social media platforms, potentially endangering women’s privacy. The company reportedly addressed the issue shortly after the report, including by discontinuing use of Facebook parent Meta’s Pixel tracker, citing an “increasingly hostile” regulatory environment.

“Having supported our 10,000th patient this month, I am proud of the work Hey Jane has done and will continue to do,” says Freedman. That number will almost certainly grow, as will the hostility of state laws and regulations against abortion.

Sy Mukherjee has been reporting on healthcare for ten years. He is a consultant and communication architect at IDEA Pharma.

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