European doctor says ‘huge’ increase in US women seeking abortion pills since Supreme Court leak

London — A European doctor who runs a service that prescribes abortion pills to women in the United States says she’s seen a “huge increase” in Americans looking to get home remedies if they get pregnant, since a leaked draft ruling indicating the Supreme Court can take down Roe v. Wade.

“There were a huge amount of people who came to us,” said Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who runs the telemedicine service Aid Access, told CBS News. “I think that’s a very good answer. So I would say, fasten your seat belts, women in the United States, get your abortion pills out of your medicine cabinet, so you have them if you need them.”

In 2000, the FDA approved a combination of two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — to terminate a pregnancy for up to 10 weeks. Taken as pills, they effectively trigger a miscarriage and are now a common option for women seeking an abortion. Medical abortions accounted for nearly 40% of all abortions in the U.S. in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

US states have varying rules about when and where abortion pills can be taken and who can prescribe them. The World Health Organization says they can be safely prescribed for women to self-administer, without the direct supervision of a healthcare professional, until the end of the 11th week of pregnancy.

Gomperts says that, in light of the leaked draft Supreme Court ruling, women in the US should start getting abortion pills to have at home to use as “preventive medication” if they are needed.

“I think everyone should take it and make sure they have it. It’s like acetaminophen,” she said, comparing it to the common pain reliever used in Tylenol. “It’s safer,” Gomperts said.

U.S. consumers are not allowed to import prescription drugs from abroad, but the FDA does not typically go after individuals who are bringing drugs into the country for personal use, said Farah Diaz-Tello, senior advisor and legal director for the reproductive rights group. If/When/How.

Gomperts says he believes he is acting within legal and ethical guidelines in all jurisdictions in which he operates.

“We will continue to help women, but [abortion pills are] not for everyone. The fact is that the most vulnerable women will not be able to access them, because they may not speak English or Spanish. They may not have access to the internet. They may not even have a home to receive pills or an address to receive pills because they are homeless,” Gomperts said. “So, yes, of course, it’s a wonderful solution, but it won’t be able to help a substantial group of women who need care.”

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