At least 20,000 packets of abortion pills were shipped to people in the United States in the six months after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, two sources with knowledge of the situation told VICE News.
The suppliers of these estimated 20,000 packets are neither abortion clinics nor abortion telehealth organizations, but instead operate outside of the U.S. legal health care system. The demand for their pills, as well as their success at shipping them out undetected, are evidence of the thriving underground abortion network that has sprung up since Roe’s demise devastated access to abortion clinics.
Meant to be used by people who want to induce their own abortions, these pills—and the people who supply them—are in a legal grey area. Self-managing an abortion is only banned in a few states, but experts have long warned that if a prosecutor is determined to press charges for it, they’ll find a way.
“People have always self-managed abortions and will always self-manage abortion. We'll have to continue to fight back against all of the bans and restrictions that are being implemented on people,” said Christie Pitney, a licensed nurse practitioner, a midwife with Forward Midfwery, and co-founder of Abortion Freedom Fund, a fund for telehealth abortions. Referring to self-managed abortion, she added, “it’s just going to grow more and more.”