“I was terrified,” she tells me. “It was a really dark feeling to think that, in a state of rabid pro-lifers, that I might have no control over a situation that could drastically affect my life. All because of some obstacles that a man [Abbott] put in place to make a difficult situation even harder.” It was, she says, a “really shitty time to get pregnant.”
Determined not to give up, she started researching other options, eventually coming across a website called Plan C, a researcher-run information hub sponsored by the National Women’s Health Network that aims to mainstream the use of at-home abortion with the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. It was there that she discovered that she didn’t need to go to a clinic at all — she could just order the pills online.
The site gave her a variety of options for doing so, ranking them by the quality and reliability of products and services. Some offered digital consultations with doctors who provide medical support and prescriptions via telemedicine, a growing practice often referred to as “teleabortion.” Others took the doctor out of the equation entirely, offering up online marketplaces of abortion pills available at the click of a button on sites like MedSide24 and AbortionRx. Both, says Plan C co-founder and co-director Elisa Wells, are “safe and effective options for early abortion.”
Shannon went the non-doctor route, deciding on AbortionRx after reading a favorable account of it on Plan C. Also hugely popular among women on Reddit, AbortionRx claims to be the “#1 Online Pharmacy for Women’s Care” and the “Most Reliable Abortion Clinic for Women Worldwide.” The site offers a selection of “FDA-approved” birth control and abortion pill options ranging from $99 to $399, and promises to ship them “quick and on-time,” from an undisclosed foreign location, directly to customers’ homes. It didn’t seem to be explicitly illegal to order from them, so Shannon put in an order for an “RU486 kit” — a combi-pack of mifepristone and misoprostol — tacked on an extra $50 for expedited shipping and waited for her order to arrive.
Exactly seven days later, she received a small, unmarked brown envelope with a handwritten address and zero mention of “women’s products” or anything else on the package that would have given it away. As she tore through its tape and handwritten label, something occurred to her. I just ordered an abortion online, she thought. Why don’t more people know about this?