Apr 21, 2023

The Supreme Court Can’t Stop Underground Abortion Networks. And They’re Thriving.

A common, safe, and effective abortion pill could be yanked from the market or placed under restrictions by midnight Friday, depending on the outcome of the first major abortion case to hit the Supreme Court since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. Abortion clinics across the country have spent weeks bracing for this moment, consulting with lawyers and rapidly recalculating if and how they will perform abortions if they’re forced to change how they use the drug, mifepristone.

But regardless of any ruling from the Supreme Court on the fate of mifepristone, the nation’s highest court can only control the legal market for the drug. It has no real ability to dictate what happens within the thriving world of underground abortion networks—where mifepristone has continued to flow and where demand for the drug will likely skyrocket, rather than fall, if the Supreme Court tries to cut off the U.S. health care system’s supply.

Traffic on Plan C, a website that provides information about how to get abortion pills, has roughly doubled every time there’s a new development in this case, co-founder Elisa Wells told VICE News.