Article By Taiyler Simone Mitchell
~ MAY 2022 ~
- A Supreme Court draft leak offered a potential preview of how abortion access may dwindle.
- Providers are seeing interest in abortion medication skyrocket after the leak.
- But stockpiling isn’t the best idea. ‘Vaginal preppers’ have resources to share.
Access to abortions has been slowly slipping away for years — with over 1,300 abortion restriction laws implemented by states since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision — but a leaked Supreme Court draft has some preparing for the worst.
“It feels like you’re in a bad dream and you’re trying to tell everybody else about it,” Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney based on the East Coast, told Insider about the leak. “What was limited to a certain community is now everyone’s nightmare. That feels terrifying, but also less lonely.”
Like survivalists preparing for the apocalypse, “vaginal preppers” have been gearing up for the criminalization of abortion. The term, used to describe community providers stocking up on abortion supplies, was coined by an anonymous abortion activist who spoke to The Atlantic about the phenomenon.
Individuals can reserve medication abortion pills for themselves online or at a local clinic, but advocates told Insider that hoarding them is a bad idea for two reasons: it limits supplies for those who need them and the pills may expire before use.
Medication abortion is a safe method to terminate a pregnancy, according to a 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that found that the process presents a very low risk of complications for those who ingest the pills.
In the days following a leaked draft opinion that suggested that the landmark decision might be overturned, abortion pill sales have increased as people gear up for restrictions on the procedure.
Since the SCOTUS draft was leaked on May 2, telehealth abortion clinic Choix saw a 300% increase in interest in abortion pills, Insider reported. Similarly, requests for the abortion pill have tripled at Aid Access, a nonprofit organization that mails the pills to patients who aren’t able to obtain them locally, according to Reuters. Aid Access provides “advanced provision pills,” which allow individuals to order them without being pregnant.
Throughout 2021, the organization processed a total of 10,000 requests, but between May 3 and May 10, the week following the draft leak, they’d already processed 1,614 requests, Aid Access told Insider. Aid Access also said they saw a 2,800% increase in website traffic from May 2 to May 3.
Information sharing from so-called preppers has offered a port in a storm — redirecting individuals with unwanted pregnancies from the obsolete and malignant wire hanger method to safer alternative methods like abortion pills.
Abortion medication makes up over 50% of all US abortions and became widely available in the US in the year 2000, according to The Guttmacher Insititute, an organization dedicated to reproductive health policy.
Keeping a set of abortion pills or Plan B in the medicine cabinet is not a bad idea for a rainy day — accidents happen and emergencies come up — but stockpiling may be the worst way to handle the crisis, several sources told Insider.
Both abortion pills have shelf lives: Misoprostol for two years and mifepristone for up to five. Plan B, which also has a weight limit of 155 pounds, has a shelf life of four years.
And, hoarding supplies, especially through local purchases, creates a “contraception desert, preventing people who need it who might not have the resources to buy it elsewhere from accessing that care,” said Steph Black, writer and abortion activist.
“I think in a perfect world everyone should have them in their cabinet,” Brenna McCaffrey, professor in the Anthropology department at Fordham University, told Insider. But, she adds, stockpiling on products like abortion pills “can be really dangerous, especially for people who are just reacting to the news, because there are still people in Texas, for example, right now who are already living under this future that people in other states are imagining, and they need those pills.”
A version of this article originally appeared here on insider.com