Online Abortion Medication Demand ‘Highest In States With Restrictive Policies’

Demand for abortion medication from internet-based sources is highest among those US states that have restrictive policies in place, new research has revealed, indicating that 76 per cent of requests come from those living in states like Mississippi, which has the highest rate of all.

The study, carried out by the University of Texas, shows that the states of Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas all have high request rates as well. Some 24 per cent of requests do come from women living in states with supportive policy climates, with New Hampshire registering the lowest rate.

Data from online abortion telemedicine service Women on Web was analysed, with consultation forms from the organisation including information on demographic characteristics, motivations for seeking online medication and medical history. 

It was found that US residents making requests to the service had trouble accessing clinical care, listing personal preferences as to why they were looking for abortion drugs on the internet.

Privacy was found to be the most important consideration in both types of state policy environments and although there isn’t much knowledge regarding the experiences of people using internet-based pharmacy sites, online abortion services have shown they have high levels of safety and effectiveness.

Commenting on the findings, lead author of the study Abigail Aiken said: “In both states that have passed many abortion restrictions and states that have passed fewer, people are motivated by a combination of barriers to clinic access and a preference for at-home care. 

“These results suggest that state policies restricting access to abortion have made it harder for some people to access care in the clinic setting, and so they look online for alternatives.”

Change does appear to be in the air regarding abortion law in some parts of the world. Northern Ireland, for example, has today (October 22nd) decriminalised abortion to put it in line with the Abortion Act 1967, which regulates terminations in England, Scotland and Wales as well.

According to the BBC, abortion was only allowed in the country if a woman’s life was at risk or if there was the possibility of permanent or serious damage to either her physical or mental health.

The vote to repeal the ban on abortion in Ireland was held in May last year, with almost two in three people choosing to repeal the eighth amendment to the constitution, the Guardian reported at the time.

The referendum saw 66.4 per cent of the electorate vote Yes, representing a majority of 706,349. The vote saw the highest turnout for a ballot relating to social issues,  and the third-highest for a referendum in Ireland since the constitution was adopted in 1937.

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