According to a report released by the Society of Family Planning (a nonprofit organization focused on abortion and contraception), the number of medication abortions performed by virtual-only providers has increased since the Supreme Court removed the constitutional right to an abortion in June 2022.
While the total number of abortions declined by 2% between April and December 2022 (as measured by the Total Abortions), medicated abortions through telehealth grew by 136%. In April, less than 4,000 virtual medicated abortions were provided, but in December there were over 8,500.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortions will account for more than 50% of all abortions in the US by 2020. According to the new data released by the Society of Family Planning, this rate is likely to have increased as a result of the Dobbs ruling.
Late Wednesday, a federal appeals court decided to freeze portions of a Texas Judge's decision that would have suspended US Food and Drug Administration approval of the mifepristone drug. This is the first of the two drugs in the medication abortion regimen. The abortion pill is still available in the United States but may be more difficult to obtain. The appeals court ruled that several rules that have been revised since 2000, including the one that allows the pill to be ordered by mail and telehealth, could still go into effect.
The Department of Justice asked the Supreme Court to intervene on Thursday in the emergency dispute regarding the abortion drug.
The Society of Family Planning collects abortion provider data nationwide, including clinics, private medical practices, hospitals, and virtual providers. The nonprofit identified more than 80% providers who participated in the study. The report does not include data from Aid Access, a popular overseas telehealth provider that offers medication abortions. This is because it is not a part of the US formal healthcare system. A study conducted in November last year found that Aid Access received about 6,500 medication abortion requests per month.
After the Dobbs ruling, the rate of telehealth abortions increased to 9%. In some states, such as Georgia and Wyoming the number of telehealth-abortions dropped, but in other states it grew.
Wyoming had the highest rate of telehealth terminations of all states, both before and following the Dobbs decision. Wyoming had 92% of its abortions performed via telehealth before the Dobbs ruling. In the months that followed, this rate fell to 80%.
Wyoming, despite the high dependence on abortion pills that are almost always available in the state, became the first to ban their use with a new law which took effect on July 1, despite the fact that Wyoming is the most dependent on abortion pills.
In Idaho, only 17% of abortions performed before the ruling used virtual-only services. In the months following, this rate increased to 43%. This is a 26-point increase, the biggest of any state.
As a percentage of total abortions, several of the Democratic-led 17 states that were involved in the Washington case, which sued to expand the access to abortion pills (Colorado and Maine) also saw some of the largest increases in telehealth aborts. Before the Dobbs decision, 8% of all abortions in these states and the District of Columbia were performed virtually. After the Dobbs ruling, this rate jumped to almost 13%.