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Telemedicine abortion provider 'Hey Jane' expands services in New England

Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is a medication typically used in combination with misoprostol to bring about a medical abortion during pregnancy and manage early miscarriage. A United States appeals court has ruled to restrict access to the abortion pill mifepristone, ordering a ban on telemedicine prescriptions and shipments of the drug by mail, this issue has created uproar in the USA, according to a report. It also limited its use to up to seven weeks of pregnancy, rather than 10. Mifepristone's availability remains unchanged for now, following an emergency order from the US Supreme Court in April preserving the status quo during the appeal.
Soumyabrata Roy
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NurPhoto via Getty Images
Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, is a medication typically used in combination with misoprostol to bring about a medical abortion during pregnancy and manage early miscarriage. A United States appeals court has ruled to restrict access to the abortion pill mifepristone, ordering a ban on telemedicine prescriptions and shipments of the drug by mail, this issue has created uproar in the USA, according to a report. It also limited its use to up to seven weeks of pregnancy, rather than 10. Mifepristone's availability remains unchanged for now, following an emergency order from the US Supreme Court in April preserving the status quo during the appeal.

Hey Jane, a New York-headquartered telemedicine reproductive care clinic, is expanding beyond Connecticut and Massachusetts to all New England states. The company said the move is in response to growing demand for the start-up’s abortion care services, following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which cut off millions of Americans from accessing abortion care.

In Connecticut, Kiki Freedman, founder of Hey Jane, said the platform is seeing more patients now than when it launched in the state a year ago.

In the last year, Hey Jane treated nearly 300 patients with insurance and 700 uninsured patients in Connecticut. Services are priced on an income-based sliding scale with medication abortion, urinary tract infection care and birth control being the top three services in the state, the company said.

New England states have shown “unwavering commitment” to abortion care access, Freedman said, which has resulted in more patients coming to the area to seek care following the Dobbs decision. “This further underscores the ongoing need to provide additional options,” she said in a statement.

Access to care in the region is not equal. In parts of New England, people can drive up to nearly four hours to and from the nearest clinic, said Alyssa Wagner, head of medical at the company. Hey Jane does not require patients to be residents, only to have an address where medication can be mailed.

Kate Pascucci, an OB-GYN in West Hartford who is not connected with Hey Jane, expects the platform to increase access to care and said the expansion is “a step in the right direction.” But said “problems may arise if complications develop as a result of an abortion, if the patient lives in a state where there is poor access to women's health services.”

Wagner and Freedman said there are a limited number of clinics providing abortion care — and many are at capacity, meaning waits of more than a week in order to get an appointment. They say there are nearly 1 million people in need living in “contraceptive deserts” in New England.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 14 states have a near-total ban on abortion, 15 states restrict access to medication abortion. The Institute says medication abortion accounted for more than a half of all abortions in the country in 2020.

Sujata Srinivasan is Connecticut Public Radio’s senior health reporter. Prior to that, she was a senior producer for Where We Live, a newsroom editor, and from 2010-2014, a business reporter for the station.

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