You can pick up your abortion pills at a local pharmacy but you need a prescription.

First, let’s step back for a moment to clarify possible confusion with Plan B, also known as the morning-after pill. The Plan B pill contains levonorgestrel, a progestin that can be used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. 

On the other hand, a medical abortion involves taking medication to end a pregnancy that has already been established. It consists of two abortion pills, mifepristone and misoprostol, in succession and in that order, within 24 to 48 hours of one another.

What is Mifepristone and Misoprostol?

The first pill, mifepristone, is a progesterone blocker. Progesterone is a hormone required for pregnancy to occur and develop. The brand name of mifepristone is Mifeprex. The second pill, misoprostol, causes the uterus to contract, eliminating the pregnancy tissue from the body. It’s sold under the brand name Cytotec.

Telehealth is probably the most convenient way of getting in touch with a licensed doctor or healthcare provider from your phone or a computer in order to get a prescription. You may then be able to fill the prescription at a pharmacy or get the pills mailed to your home. 

Telehealth for Medication Abortions

Telehealth, also known as telemedicine or e-health, involves the delivery of health-related services using videoconferencing or other telecommunication methods. Telehealth for medication abortions involves remote appointments using videoconferences for medication abortion consultations and abortion pill prescriptions.

Over 20 years ago, the FDA approved the use of medication abortions. Until the COVID pandemic, women had to visit a clinic or doctor’s office in person for a medication abortion consultation, and a clinic or doctor’s office had to dispense the medication. During the COVID pandemic, however, the FDA made it temporarily legal to have medication abortion consultations and receive abortion pill prescriptions through telehealth service and obtain prescribed abortion pills by mail or at a local pharmacy. As of 2022, the FDA has made those permissions permanent.

In 2022, however, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending abortion as a constitutionally protected right. It may be more difficult to obtain abortion pills as state laws may be changing. Still, depending on the state, abortion pills are still legal and available through online and in-person methods. 

How to Obtain Abortion Pills Using Telehealth

Providers of telehealth services for abortion pills understand that the decision to have an abortion is no easy one. That’s why we make the process of obtaining abortion pills using telehealth so simple, affordable and judgment-free.

All you have to do is sign up, answer a few simple questions, and you’ll be set up for a telehealth appointment with a doctor certified to prescribe you a medication abortion in the state where you live (or are currently located). You can then pick up the abortion pills at a local pharmacy or receive them in the mail at an in-state address.

The Safety of Telehealth Medical Abortions

Telehealth medical abortion is a safe and effective method of providing abortion care. Studies have shown that telehealth medical abortion is as safe as in-person medical abortion, with similar rates of treatment success and serious adverse effects. The telemedicine-hybrid model of medical abortion, which includes both telemedicine and in-person care, has been found to be effective, safe, and acceptable, with high levels of patient satisfaction.

The use of telemedicine technology in medical abortion allows for the provision of care without an in-person visit, reducing transportation costs and other inconveniences. The use of telehealth in medical abortion can also improve access to care, especially for individuals living in remote areas or those with mobility issues. 

Tips for Using Telehealth for a Medication Abortion

Before you set up a telehealth appointment for a medication abortion, it’s recommended to keep the following in mind:

  • Confirm you are pregnant by taking a home pregnancy test.
  • Determine the date of your last menstrual period.
  • Make sure you’re physically located in a state that permits telehealth for medication abortions, and be sure there’s a mailing address or pharmacy within the same state where you can receive your medications, even if that’s not your home state.

There may be restrictions on telehealth appointments for medication abortions and receiving abortion pills across state lines. Therefore, you may need to be physically present in a designated state to receive your telehealth appointment and obtain the abortion pills. 

If your state does not permit telehealth visits for abortion pills, you may be able to travel to a state that allows telehealth visits for this purpose. However, you might not need to be present in the state to set up your appointment. You can schedule an appointment and then travel to the designated state if needed.

Before your telehealth appointment for a prescription for abortion pills, the following tips can be useful:

  • Ensure your technology is functioning properly – Double-check the camera and sound on your smartphone, computer, tablet or other internet-capable device. It’s also a good idea to make sure the device is fully charged or plugged in.
  • Find an appropriate spot for your appointment – Locate a quiet and well-lit space to conduct your appointment, make sure the Wi-Fi is good and you have strong cell-phone service, and ask people around you not to interrupt you.
  • Verify insurance coverage – Confirm with your health insurance company that telehealth medical appointments are covered under your policy. If they are, find out if your copay will be the same as regular in-person appointments. If they’re not, find out what the costs will be ahead of time so there’s no surprises.
  • Prepare questions – Have a list of your questions or concerns about medication abortions. You can write them down so you won’t forget them during your telehealth appointment.
  • Prepare to take notes – You may want to jot down notes about the information your healthcare provider gives you. That way, you can follow up if you have any questions or concerns about things such as administration and potential side effects.

Your healthcare provider may recommend certain imaging studies, as there are instances in which a medication abortion won’t work and a surgical procedure is necessary for a successful abortion.

Paying for Abortion Pills

Note that some health insurance plans and Medicare prescription drug plans may cover part or all of the costs of either mifepristone or misoprostol. If you don’t have insurance coverage or the costs are still high with insurance, you may be able to use a prescription discount card or coupon. 

The price can vary depending on the location of the pharmacy where you purchase your medications. The average cash price of mifepristone is around $100 for a single tablet, while the average cash price of misoprostol is around $30 for a single tablet. The entire cost of the pills will depend on the dosage and quantity prescribed.

Other References

“Telemedicine Abortion Care”; Planned Parenthood

“FDA enables abortion via telemedicine by lifting restrictions on pill”, Kat Jercich; Healthcare IT News