I’ve never been a member of the Boy Scouts or the Coast Guard, but I believe in always being prepared. Maybe it’s because I was obsessed with Scar in “The Lion King” as a kid. Maybe it’s the anxiety disorder. Anyway, I speak softly (OK, maybe not so much) and carry a big purse. It is full of snacks, sunscreen, pocket knives and various tools for providing first aid. I keep a blanket in my car year round and another larger first aid kit. And that’s why I ordered abortion pills on the internet last week, even though I’m not currently pregnant.
I’d like to assume that Maine will always protect my right to terminate a pregnancy. But we all know that this particular right is only one election away from disappearing. (Can you imagine if every fall we had to put up signs saying “VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR ACCESS TO CHEMOTHERAPY”?) If the Republican Party comes to power here, it will try to restrict access to abortion. They’ve said it over and over again. And even if it remains legal here, what if – heaven forbid – I have to move? What if I’m broke? A first-trimester abortion costs about $500 here in Maine. In other places it is more expensive and the insurance does not always pay. What if I just want to avoid going through the crowd of angry, screaming goons just to get to a clinic?
There are many reasons why someone like myself, but not limited to, might want to keep a medical abortion close at hand. Knowledge is power. This knowledge can help you or someone you care about regain power over their body.
Obtaining these drugs was simple. I went to the website of Aid Access, a spinoff of Women on Waves, two abortion access organizations run by Dutch physician Dr Rebecca Gomperts, who is essentially the Indiana Jones of access to abortion. ‘abortion. This organization currently offers an “advance supply” of medicated abortion pills to American women. In other words, you may be prescribed the drug even if you don’t need it at that particular time, such as a prescription for painkillers before having surgery. I filled out a survey on the Aid Access website, which is reviewed by their doctors. I submitted a confirmation of identification via their secure and encrypted email. I made a $150 payment through Stax Payments (Aid Access offers financial assistance for those who cannot afford the full sticker price). And the order was filled by Honeybee Pharmacy and mailed to me.
The whole process, from the first Google search for “prearranged access to help” to my discreetly wrapped package arriving in the mail, took less than a week. This service is available in all 50 states, but for states with more restrictions on abortive drugs and telehealth, the pills are prescribed by a European doctor and sent to a pharmacy in India for fulfillment. This adds a few weeks to the processing time. A few extra weeks isn’t a big deal if you’re not pregnant, but it can be a huge problem if you’re currently facing an unplanned pregnancy, because abortion pills are only guaranteed to be effective up to the 12th week. of pregnancy. Another reason why planning ahead is a good idea.
Mifepristone (also known as RU-486, which sounds very cool and sci-fi sounding) stops the growth of an embryo. The second drug, misoprostol, also known by the brand name Cytotec and commonly used to treat stomach ulcers, causes contractions that force the uterus to expel its contents. Knowledge of these drugs, their use and their necessary dosage will be increasingly vital in the years to come. The combination of mifepristone and misoprostol is 95% effective in terminating a pregnancy in the first trimester. Research indicates that misoprostol alone is effective in terminating a first trimester pregnancy in 80% of cases.
The medications I received have a two-year “expiration date” on them. I use the term “expiration date” lightly because that’s only as long as they’re guaranteed to be effective – but as anyone who’s taken any leftover prescription medicine knows, it’s highly likely that they will continue to be effective for several years as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place. (I took a 2017 fluconazole pill a few weeks ago and it worked!) As far as safety goes, medical abortion is incredibly safe. It’s much safer than Tylenol, a lethal dose of which you can buy at any supermarket.
When I was a child, my mother told me that the three biggest lies ever told were, and I quote: “The check is in the mail; the government will take care of it and I promise you that you will not get pregnant. So maybe you don’t think you’ll get pregnant unexpectedly. And maybe you think the government will protect your ability to terminate this pregnancy. But I? I’m not going to put my future in anyone’s hands but my own. And as Scar from “The Lion King” so aptly put it: “Our teeth and our ambitions are bared. Be prepared!”
Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a millennial from Maine. She can be contacted at: