Many women are turning to online options to obtain the abortion pill. However, this option is not recommended for safety reasons. Here’s why and how to receive the care you may need.
The FDA Does Not Regulate Online Drugs
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medication in the United States for the safety of citizens. However, drugs purchased online are not regulated. The FDA recommends against buying the abortion pill online because they cannot track where the drugs originated. There is also no way to ensure that the drug is the proper dosage or not expired.
Gaps in Care
Obtaining the abortion pill online bypasses crucial steps in the abortion process that are in place for a woman’s safety. In particular, a woman ordering the abortion pill online likely doesn’t have access to appropriate testing and follow-up medical care.
Before receiving an abortion, it is recommended that a woman obtain an ultrasound to confirm, date, and locate the pregnancy. This step ensures that a woman is a good candidate for the procedure.
Confirmation: the ultrasound verifies that the embryo or fetus has a heartbeat and is growing. This information is essential because as many as 20% of pregnancies end in natural miscarriages. Miscarriages should be monitored by medical professionals as the pregnancy may pass on its own or require an intervention different from the abortion pill.
Date: The abortion pill is only FDA-approved for pregnancies up to 10 weeks.
Location of pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancies occur when an embryo implants outside of the uterus. An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, and the abortion pill is not an effective treatment. Early diagnosis through ultrasound is crucial to protecting a woman’s health. An ectopic pregnancy requires medical or surgical intervention and is not an abortion.
Another essential step that is skipped when obtaining the abortion pill online is testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some STDs have no symptoms, but can increase a woman’s risk of developing a severe infection called pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) after an abortion. PID can cause long-term complications like chronic pelvic pain, increased risk of ectopic pregnancy, and infertility.
Follow-up care should be a priority after an abortion. A woman should be made aware of the signs and symptoms of complications of her abortion and whom to reach out to if she experiences any. Additionally, receiving an ultrasound after an abortion is indicated to ensure that no tissue from the pregnancy remains in the woman’s uterus.