When the national conversation around abortion exploded with the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft overturning Roe v. Wade, the healthcare world started to brace itself for a potential shift in abortion access and care.
As the country acknowledges the possibility that some states will severely curtail abortion rights — or even that a national abortion ban could eventually come into play in a Republican-led Senate — a new documentary, “Abortion: Add to Cart,” explores how telehealth technology is facilitating new routes for people seeking safe abortions.
The film aims to provide people with accurate information on access to mifepristone — more commonly known as abortion pills — and other safe options.
“When people talk about coat hangers and the self-managed abortions that happened pre-Roe, not many of them realize that there are more options out there now that look different from that,” said Jessica Sarah Flaum, the film’s director and producer. “The Internet and abortion pills have given us way more opportunities to self-manage abortions. My goal is to give people that information so that if it’s a service they seek, they have the tools to access it.”
Some public health experts have pointed to telehealth as a potential savior for abortion access should Roe v. Wade fall. Online healthcare providers have already begun to see surges in demand for abortion pills and telehealth consultations, according to new data released this week by Plan C.
Before the pandemic, telehealth access to abortion pills and consultations was far more limited, but those restrictions were slackened along with other telehealth rules during COVID-19. In December 2021, the Food and Drug Administration permanently lifted the requirement that allowed only certain clinicians to give out the pills in person, maintaining the pandemic expansion of access across several states.
“Abortion: Add to Cart” follows two contrasting stories. One person interviewed, Alice, discusses her self-managed abortion through pills obtained via Aid Access. Another person, Ari, is trans and non-binary and explains what their experience with abortion was like before such options were available.
The goal, Flaum says, is to assuage the fear and misinformation surrounding self-managed abortions – especially in light of potential new restrictions on clinic abortions.
“It’s really important that while we continue to support clinics, we also talk about all the different options that people will have if they are seeking an abortion that may fit better into their lives than an in-clinic procedure would,” Flaum explained. “Both providers and advocates need to know more about it and understand it so that they can provide the best resources to people depending on what they decide.”
Flaum added that, recent news notwithstanding, she remains hopeful.
“Abortion pills in tandem with the Internet are unstoppable. No matter how many laws are passed, people will always be able to get access to this because these are two revolutionary technologies that can’t be stopped,” she said. “As someone who wants everyone to have access to safe abortion, that gives me hope for the future.”
This story first appeared on MM+M.