LONDON: As many as 21,000 US women ordered abortion pills online in the past six months (between October 2018 and March 2019), according to figures revealed by Aid Access, a charity.
The charity, a European organisation, provides online prescriptions for abortion pills that are dispatched to the US by mail, reports the Guardian. Aid Access said 33-50 per cent women who made the request were sent abortion pills in the mail.
The majority of the recipients live in states with hostile abortion policies. Women who obtained pills online described desperation at being unable to access affordable medical services locally, with some saying they had considered extreme measures to end their pregnancies.
"The reality on the ground is already so desperate," said Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Aid Access. "If a woman cannot access a normal abortion in the US they will do anything to end their pregnancy," Gomperts said.
Last week, Alabama passed the first near-total abortion ban, with four other states passing bans in the early weeks of gestation -- before most women know they are pregnant -- threatening women's constitutional right to abortion within the US.
Abortion is legal in all 50 US states. Abortion bans are an effort by campaigners to overturn Roe vs Wade, a US supreme court decision that provided women the right to abortion up to the point a foetus can live outside the womb, or roughly 24 weeks.
Since 2006, Gomperts is running the Netherlands-based charity Women on Web, which enables women in countries with abortion bans to terminate their pregnancies through online consultations, the Guardian reported.
Doctors at the charity prescribe two pills -- mifepristone and misoprostol -- that will terminate pregnancy within the first 10 weeks. The pills are sent to women from a pharmacy based in India.
Gomperts launched the US operation, Aid Access, last year after seeing a steady increase in demand, with about 6,000 requests for abortion pills between October 2017 and August 2018.