Reproductive health-focused telemedicine company Wisp is expanding abortion pill access to six additional states, it announced Monday. The company launched abortion care in August with a program in California, and the service will now be available in Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New York, and Washington.
Wisp is able to offer abortion pills via telehealth because of new rules introduced by the Food and Drug Administration during the pandemic. Prior to the public health emergency, people had to see providers in-person in order to get mifepristone, one of the two drugs used in a medical abortion. The agency relaxed the rules early in the pandemic and then permanently lifted them at the end of 2021.
“We believe abortion is a critical aspect of healthcare, and we are committed to providing this as an option for our patients, in the states where it is legal, so that they can take ownership of this aspect of their health with privacy and respect,” Ahmad Bani, CEO of Wisp, said in a statement when the service first launched in California.
Part of that statement — “where it is legal” — is key. Some states have banned using telehealth services for abortions. Laws around abortion are still in flux around the country, making some of these services a legal gray area in some places. Services like Wisp’s help expand abortion access in places where the medical procedure is already legal. Abortion may be legal in those places, but it’s not always accessible to everyone (taking time to drive to a clinic is a barrier to many people, for example). The expansion underscores the growing divide in the United States between places where people are able to have a safe healthcare procedure and places where they are not.