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A new group is starting to ship abortion pills by mail to women’s homes

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The suspension of regulations requiring that abortion pills be distributed in person by certified healthcare providers from authorized hospitals, clinics, and private practice offices was announced by Janet Woodcock, M.D., the Biden administration’s acting director of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, on Monday.

On Tuesday, a new group, Abortion on Demand (AOD), announced the launch of a national telemedicine service to make these pills available to women for home delivery by mail.

Despite the Biden administration’s assertion that the suspension of the regulations on the distribution of mifepristone is merely “temporary,” applying only until the pandemic passes, AOD founder Dr. Jamie Phifer is treating the “suspension” of the in-person requirement as an opportunity to establish an ongoing telemedical abortion service. Chemical abortions, also known as medication abortions, account for at least 39% of all abortions in the United States.

According to a 4/13/21 interview in Marie Claire, Phifer is a Seattle-area family physician. A search of online databases reveals that she is licensed to practice medicine in 49 states and the District of Columbia (with the exception of Michigan, which appears to be missing for reasons that are not clear). Marie Claire’s Susan Rinkunas reports that Phifer has been developing the service for the past year and a half, maintaining its secrecy until the legal framework permitted her to launch it. [www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a36028641/abortion-on-demand-telemedicine-service-launch]

Marie Claire has hailed this as the country’s “first large-scale telemedicine abortion service,” though AOD is only immediately launching in twenty states (and the District of Columbia). It should be noted that there have been other multi-state webcam or telemedical abortion services in operation for years.

For instance, Planned Parenthood’s Iowa affiliate initiated the webcam abortion program in July 2008. The program involved screening women over a computer monitor at remote storefront locations and releasing the pills from a desk drawer on site.

A group called Gynuity further extended this concept with its TelAbortion study. Interviews were conducted via video conference, and the abortion pills were shipped to the woman’s home via overnight mail.
AOD’s setup is similar to Gynuity’s, but it covers perhaps three or four more states.

The only apparent difference between AOD and Gynuity is that while Gynuity was able to operate under the FDA’s regulations as a “study,” now that those regulations are suspended, AOD is dropping the pretense of a study. Additionally, Rinkunas has informed us that Phifer is lowering prices, charging $239 for the pills, about $300 less than what women ordinarily pay at the abortion clinic.

In what is presumed to be a benevolent act—although it may also be a strategy to forestall criticism that AOD is undercutting brick-and-mortar clinics—Phifer has stated that AOD will donate 60% of its profits to the Abortion Care Network, a membership organization comprising independent clinics (essentially non-Planned Parenthood clinics).
Marie Claire has observed that these independent clinics still have a role to play because they are “crucial to later abortion care.” They perform 62% of abortions after the first trimester and 81% of the abortions after 22 weeks. The magazine helpfully notes that “teleservices cannot serve these populations.”

In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire, Phifer reveals the incredible AOD teleservice model. It’s a revolutionary approach that puts women at the center of the abortion process. The model begins with a pre-recorded video that explains the procedure in detail. Then, it’s time for an online chat with the abortionist. This is where the magic happens! The abortionist uses this opportunity to screen patients and answer any questions. If everything checks out, the abortionist ships the woman the pills. The whole process takes between two and five days, depending on where the woman lives. It’s a fast and convenient way to get the pills without leaving the comfort of home.

AOD is currently limiting sales of its pills to women no more than 56 days past their last menstrual period (the FDA protocol allows use of the pills up through 70 days) and patients at least 18 years old. They ask for a photo ID in the video portion of the interview to confirm the age, and they also require a positive pregnancy test.

The test version of their website (https://stage.testmau.com) is a great resource for women looking for more information about their pregnancy options. They do not require an ultrasound, but they do recommend that women who may have pregnancies of later gestations or have an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy have one.

They claim “medication abortion” is “very safe” and say “emergencies are uncommon,” which is great news for women considering this option. However, they do not mention the two dozen women who have died after taking these pills and thousands who suffered life-threatening hemorrhages, infections, or ruptured ectopic pregnancies. They say they have a “board-certified physician” on call if needed, but suggest that women having serious medical problems should just call 911, which is a good suggestion for anyone considering this option.

AOD is on the cusp of expansion! It’s currently awaiting licensing for its mail-order pharmacy, which will allow it to serve patients in more states. However, some states have laws banning telemedicine (or requiring that the physician be physically present to examine the patient and dispense the pills) or requiring in-person ultrasounds.

Phifer says that they deliberately chose the name “Abortion On Demand” to be provocative. In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire’s Rinkunas, Phifer revealed her ambitious plans: “That’s what we want, that’s what we’re going to try for.” She’s not content with just adding a few more states.

“I frankly think medication abortion should be over the counter,” she said.


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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