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How to have a safe abortion at home through telemedicine

With the "abortion pill" you don’t need to be near an abortion clinic—or even leave your house—to access safe, effective abortion care in early pregnancy.

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You don’t need to be near an abortion clinic—or even leave your house—to access safe, effective abortion care in early pregnancy, thanks to medication abortion and the expansion of telemedicine.

Since 2000, the medication regimen of mifepristone and misoprostol has been an FDA-approved abortion option for anyone up to 10 weeks pregnant. It’s up to 98% effective, and complications happen in less than 1% of people (making it safer than both Tylenol and Viagra). And in 2021, the FDA lifted certain restrictions around mifepristone—making it legal in many states to mail the medications, no in-person clinic visit necessary. 

Recent studies confirm that getting abortion pills via telemedicine is  just as safe and effective as getting pills prescribed and administered in-person. Which means that you can get abortion care at home, through virtual clinics like Hey Jane. 

There are many reasons why someone may prefer to have an abortion at home. For some people, they’d like the privacy and comfort of getting their abortion care in a space they know. For other people, it’s more convenient—they can start treatment when it works best for them, no appointments or traveling necessary. And for others, it can be more affordable, since they don’t need to worry about transportation or childcare costs.

Are you thinking about or already planning an at-home abortion through telemedicine? Here’s what you need to know.

Are at-home abortions through telemedicine legal?

While the safety and effectiveness of telemedicine abortion have been confirmed by numerous studies, the laws around telemedicine prescription and administration of abortion pills vary by state. 

(You can check yours here.) Hey Jane currently provides virtual abortion treatment to people in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington, and telemedicine abortion is legal in all of these states.

Currently, 19 states have laws that require the provider to be physically present in the room with someone as they prescribe abortion pills, meaning telemedicine abortion unfortunately isn’t an option for anyone who lives in those states. Resources like Plan C have information on how to access medication abortion in states with restrictions in place.  

It’s important to remember that state-level restrictions on telemedicine abortion don’t mean it’s unsafe; research shows it absolutely is, and the FDA has confirmed that mifepristone can be safely prescribed without an in-person visit. 

These laws can change rapidly, but the Guttmacher Institute keeps this resource as updated as possible. It’s a good idea for anyone who has the possibility of getting pregnant to keep an eye on how local legislation evolves.

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How to have an abortion at home through telemedicine

Taking abortion pills at home with the help of telemedicine starts with getting your prescription. You’ll likely begin by virtually connecting with a healthcare provider and answering questions to assess your eligibility. (At Hey Jane, patients need to be 18 or older, up to 10 weeks pregnant, located in one of the states we currently serve, as well as medically eligible for treatment.)

You might not be eligible if you have a confirmed or suspected ectopic pregnancy (a pregnancy outside the uterus, aka womb), severe anemia, current use of an intrauterine device (IUD), or other medical contraindications. A medical professional will be able to determine if medication abortion is the right option for you.

For those who are eligible for telemedicine abortion care, there are two treatment protocols to be aware of. Some clinics will prescribe a combination of the medications mifepristone and misoprostol, while some international pharmacies offer misoprostol on its own. Hey Jane prescribes and delivers both types of medicine (the combination of which has been shown in the majority of research to be the most effective method), in a discreet package, for an abortion at home.

Here’s how these abortion medications work:

  • Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone so the pregnancy stops growing
  • Misoprostol causes the uterus to contract and leads to cramping and bleeding, similar to an early miscarriage

The exact process of taking the pills, including how many are taken and when, depends on the medications being used and how far along the pregnancy is—but any telemedicine shipment should come with clear, step-by-step instructions. Whatever the protocol, water and ibuprofen (unless you’re allergic) are always recommended. (Hey Jane sends patients anti-nausea medication, as well.)

Some telemedicine abortion providers, such as Hey Jane, have a medical team available for questions or concerns throughout the process. (Our team is always a text, phone, or video call away, 24/7!) If not, there are several abortion hotlines and textlines that can help

Aftercare for at-home abortion with pills

Like many medications, abortion pills are associated with symptoms that may be uncomfortable. These are some common ones, though each person’s experience will be unique:

  • Heavy bleeding (often for around 6-24 hours before getting lighter)
  • Intense cramping
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

Some things that can help with managing those symptoms include:

  • Taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every 8 hours, or two Extra Strength Tylenol every 4-6 hours if you’re allergic, as needed (all Hey Jane patients receive ibuprofen or Tylenol with their abortion pills)
  • Using a hot water or heating pad on your belly
  • Taking a shower
  • Sitting on the toilet
  • Having someone rub your back
  • Drinking warm tea (ginger’s easy on the stomach) or soup
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-nausea medication (anti-nausea medication ondansetron is also included with Hey Jane shipments)

You may want to have these items ready before you begin the process, so that you have everything you need at your fingertips.

After the treatment, people can continue eating whatever they want and go back to regular activities (e.g., school, work, driving, exercise, sex, using tampons) whenever they feel comfortable.

Have a safe telemedicine abortion at home with Hey Jane

Hey Jane’s virtual clinic offers a safe and accessible way to get telemedicine abortion care if you’re up to 10 weeks pregnant. Abortion care with Hey Jane is private, safe, supportive, accessible, and convenient—and it costs less than the average in-clinic cost of a medication abortion. We’ve partnered with select abortion funds to make Hey Jane treatment even more accessible.

After consulting with a medical provider (you’ll hear from us in 1 to 2 business days), eligible patients up to 10 weeks pregnant will get the same FDA-approved medication prescribed in abortion clinics via telemedicine. The medications will be delivered 1-5 business days after being prescribed, depending on your selected shipping speed.

At Hey Jane, our clinical care team and private, judgment-free community will be there to support you from beginning to end of the process.

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Written by

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs

Sarah duRivage-Jacobs is a New York-based writer and editor of words dealing with reproductive health and abortion access.

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