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Future of pill-induced abortion: Women can already receive pills by mail in 4 states, what's next?

Nara Schoenberg, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Health & Fitness

"It seemed like there was a lot of stuff going on with her family that made it very challenging for them to have the organization to get into a clinic at a certain time," said Director of Abortion Services Leah Coplon.

With the help of her mother, the girl had already obtained the necessary ultrasound and bloodwork, and the clinic was able to review those records. The mother gave her consent, in keeping with Maine law.

"I set up a video conference with (the teen) on a day she didn't have school," Coplon said. "I went over everything with her. She was able to sign documents right from her computer. We connected her with a doctor the following Thursday."

The doctor video-conferenced with the teen, making sure she didn't have any questions. The girl got the pills in the mail the next day.

Patients in the study take one mifepristone pill first and then take four tablets of misoprostol six to 48 hours later. Bleeding and cramping start after the misoprostol, and cramping can be severe. Raymond said many patients compare the discomfort to a bad period.

None of the patients in the Gynuity study agreed to speak to a reporter, but the National Network of Abortion Funds connected the Chicago Tribune with a woman willing to describe her experience with medication abortion.

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Kelsea McLain, 32, of Durham, N.C., has had two clinic-based medication abortions, the first in 2011. She had recently graduated from college, and she and her then-boyfriend (now husband) had trouble scraping together the money for the procedure. Due to financial issues and a mandatory waiting period, she was about eight weeks pregnant when she was able to obtain the medication. After taking the second medication at home, she experienced intense cramping and heavy bleeding, as well as nausea and body aches, she said.

Still, the pain was manageable -- not much worse than her worst period, she said. Her second medication abortion was earlier in pregnancy and physically much easier, she said.

"I got exactly what I wanted out of it. I wanted the experience to happen at home. I wanted the first time (to) have my mom there rubbing my back and the second time my partner rubbing my feet. I wanted to definitely experience it more and be more hands-on with what my body was going through. I don't want my body to be a mystery to me."

Abortion opponents say pill-induced abortion has been associated with complications and deaths, but studies have shown the risk is low.

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