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More women in abortion-restricted states seeking drugs online, study says

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Oct. 18 (UPI) — More women who live in states with restrictive abortion laws are looking for drugs online to terminate their pregnancy, according to new research.

The 8-page study by the American Journal of Public Health, titled “Demand for Self-Managed Medication Abortion,” cited data from telemedicine service Women on Web, which offers two pregnancy-killing drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. To order the medications, a physician must review and approve a patient form.

Between October 2017 and August 2018, women in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas — states that have some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States — submitted the most drug requests at Women on Web.

“Although the demand is higher overall in states with hostile policy climates, the broad categories of motivations for seeking self-management are similar across policy context, with most individuals citing a combination of clinic access barriers and preferences for self-management, regardless of state policy context,” the study said.

“A key difference, however, is in the specific types of barriers experienced. Access barriers related to the effects of legislative restrictions, such as increased cost and travel distance, are magnified in hostile states.”

The study said poorer women in the United States already face significant hurdles to abortion, regardless of their state.

“Requiring people to come for two ultrasounds or have a waiting period makes the abortion cost more,” Abigail Aiken, the study’s lead author, said. “In supportive states, the biggest barrier was fear of harassment by protesters.”

The study acknowledged another report that concluded some women in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley are bypassing state abortion laws by obtaining the drugs from Mexico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, warns that abortion drugs should only be acquired from certified health professionals.

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