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4 Oct, 2023 17:22

NYC debuts free abortion kits on demand

Mayor Eric Adams pitched the program as a response to the repeal of Roe v. Wade, which did not affect abortion rights in New York
NYC debuts free abortion kits on demand

New York City unveiled the first virtual abortion-on-demand program in the US on Monday, offering abortion pills for free without an in-person visit to expectant mothers who wish to terminate their pregnancies.

Mayor Eric Adams described the program as a response to last year’s Supreme Court decision repealing Roe v. Wade, which did not affect abortion-rights laws in New York or other states that already had laws on the books protecting the procedure.

Here in New York City, we will not allow the far right to continue its crusade to strip women of their reproductive rights,” Adams said, explaining that New Yorkers could now access “abortion care” from home via telehealth visits to the city-run “Virtual Express Care” program.

Doctors and counselors will be on duty seven days a week from 9am to 9pm hosting virtual appointments for women up to 10 weeks pregnant seeking medical abortions, with the requisite pills to be shipped to their address “within a few days” so long as the treatment is “clinically appropriate and prescribed,” according to Monday’s press release from City Hall.

The service will be free or low-cost to most patients, with financial counselors standing by to enroll the uninsured in financial assistance through the city’s many government programs.

In January, Mayor Adams signed an exclusive deal with pharmaceutical producer Nixon-Shane LLC to purchase a massive stock of mifepristone, a pill used in medical abortions alongside misoprostol, in order to “mitigate the threat to public health” posed by the Supreme Court’s historic move. 

The city had previously set up an “Abortion Access Hub” phone line to refer callers to free or low-cost abortion providers across the city’s five boroughs, including financial support for transportation and lodging if needed – a move some questioned as a possible invitation to “abortion tourism” from states where the procedure is illegal or difficult to obtain. 

New York has among the strongest abortion-rights laws in the US, with a law passed in 2019 guaranteeing the right to terminate even after the highly-controversial 24-week mark when said to be necessary to protect the health of the mother or when the fetus is considered non-viable. The law also allows medical professionals other than physicians to perform the procedure and removes it from the criminal code entirely. 

New York had some of the highest abortion rates in the US in 2020, with twice as many pregnancies terminated among women aged 15 to 44 as the national rate, according to pro-choice advocacy group the Guttmacher Institute. As the availability of abortion pills has grown, the percentage of women using them as opposed to surgical abortions has increased dramatically, according to statistics reported by the city.