ANNAPOLIS – At least one clinic in Maryland will have the abortion pill mifepristone available by Thanksgiving, after shipping from the manufacturer begins Monday.
Most clinics won’t start offering the pill, also called RU-486, for months while they set up guidelines and train staff. But interest is high throughout the state.
One of the 13 National Abortion Federation clinics in Maryland will distribute the drug before Thanksgiving.
“By Tuesday, providers will have the medication and will be offering services,” said Vicki Saporta, National Abortion Federation executive director.
The NAF clinic is one of two in Baltimore, and workers there say they have gotten a lot of calls about the pill. There is definitely a demand from women for this, Saporta said.
The National Abortion Federation hotline has doubled its call volume since January to 3,000 calls per month. Thirty percent of the calls are related to medical abortions.
Mifepristone is a non-surgical method for ending early pregnancy up to 49 days after the beginning of a woman’s last menstrual period. A patient takes two drugs, including mifepristone, over a two-week period. The combination is approximately 92 to 95 percent effective for ending a pregnancy.
Two of the seven Planned Parenthood of Maryland locations will offer mifepristone in about six to nine months, said Communications Specialist Kristen Carter. These locations in Baltimore and Annapolis already offer other options for non-surgical abortions.
“We are still kind of evaluating our procedures and protocols,” said Carter. The clinics have to set up guidelines for use and have to train the staff before they will start distributing the drug, she said.
Few of the independent abortion clinics in Maryland will offer mifepristone. Gynemed Surgi-Center in Baltimore will offer the drug in approximately a month.
The University Health Center at the University of Maryland, College Park, will not be prescribing or distributing mifepristone although it provides emergency contraceptive pills, also called morning-after pills, on a walk-in basis.
According to statistics from the National Abortion Federation, 55 percent of women who have abortions are age 24 and under and 31 percent are in school.
The drug will cost about the same as a surgical abortion, which ranges from $300 to $700.
Pam Long, a spokeswoman for Danco Laboratories, the only company in the United States that has the license to oversee production of mifepristone, said the company is not giving out names of the people who are ordering the drug.
Women interested in obtaining mifepristone, Long said, should call their physician, the manufacturer’s hotline (877) 423-7596 or the National Abortion Federation’s hotline (800) 772-9100.