Planned Parenthood of Illinois offering abortion pills through mail

For nearly a month, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has offered Mifepristone to patients both in and out of state through telehealth counseling and mail services.

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A protestor holds a pink sign reading “Support Legal Abortion” at Federal Plaza, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. The rally came after the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments over the Mississippi abortion law.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is expanding access to the abortion pill for patients in and out of state through mail delivery services.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Planned Parenthood of Illinois is expanding access to the abortion pill for patients in and out of state after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion showed the court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case protecting abortion rights.

The nonprofit announced Monday it would deliver Mifepristone, also known as the abortion pill, by mail to qualifying patients with an Illinois address. 

“Giving a person the ability to self-determine their body and the course of their life and their future is a fundamental right,” said Julie Uhal, program manager for PPIL’s Securing Access For Everyone program. “I think that that’s a right that should be available for people no matter what their ZIP code, no matter how much money they have, their race, their gender.”

Under PPIL’s new program, patients go through a series of telehealth screening questions that determine their eligibility to waive an ultrasound or other testing before receiving the medication.

The program is also available to those who live out of state, though patients would need to be within the borders of Illinois for a telehealth appointment and pick up the medication from an Illinois address.

The telehealth appointment includes education and medical screening with a clinician. 

If the patient qualifies, a prescription can be mailed to an Illinois address: a PPIL health center, a package pickup location or a relative’s address.

Uhal said that before the pandemic, medication and procedural abortions were administered fairly evenly. Since the onset of COVID-19, medication abortions have increased to about 60%. 

“I do think the fact that the abortion pill allows people to self-determine the timing — it’s a pill you can take in the comfort of your own home — definitely has had an impact since the start of the pandemic,” Uhal said.

Though Planned Parenthood has been offering telehealth services since last year, the mail service began in April.

The Food and Drug Administration in December dropped a requirement that a person be present to receive the abortion pill.

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, Illinois is expected to be a haven for Midwesterners in need of abortions. The Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research center, projects the neighboring states of Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan will all ban abortions. 

Uhal said Planned Parenthood is anticipating serving up to 20 times the current number of out-of-state abortion patients. The organization recently expanded its health center in the Loop and built new centers near the Wisconsin and Indiana borders. 

The state recently made an $11.2 million investment to support family planning services for those in need at 98 clinic sites across the state.

The governor’s office praised Planned Parenthood of Illinois’ program. “As the Supreme Court prepares to dismantle Roe v. Wade, the expanding access to services provided by Planned Parenthood has never been more important,” the office said in a statement.

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