With abortion banned or on the verge of a ban in a growing number of states following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, medication abortion has become more important than ever for women and pregnant people seeking abortion care. Abortifacients, the class of prescription drug used to terminate pregnancies, can be used more discreetly than surgical abortions: they don’t require an in-person consultation and, since the start of the pandemic, have been dispensed online without medical risk to patients.
However, experts say that the legal status of medication abortion is far from settled in states where abortion has been banned. Many patients haven’t heard that medication abortion is available, and women and pregnant people who do use abortifacients — or suffer a miscarriage — could face prosecution in states where abortion has been banned. It’s not clear what sort of criminal or civil risk providers, purchasers and carriers will bear if their patients and plan members use abortifacients prescribed across state lines.