Telemedicine Ramps Up for a Possible Post-Roe Future

As a post-Roe America looms, telemedicine startups prepare for a surge of patients.

What’s happening: Last week, a SCOTUS leak implied the potential reversal of Roe v. Wade, rolling back access to nationwide abortion healthcare. Now, virtual clinics are taking center stage.

  • Online pill provider Hey Jane, which raised $2.2M in seed funding last year, reported a 4x leap in website traffic.
  • Aid Access, a DTC abortion pill company, saw daily site visitors explode 2,900%.
  • Plan C, a digital resource for telemedicine abortion, logged a 2,400% increase in website traffic the day after the leak.

For context: A common procedure, over 50% of US abortions are now administered via medication, typically a two-pill treatment of mifepristone and misoprostol, shown to be safe and effective up to 10 weeks’ gestation.

Most recently, COVID prompted the FDA to relax rules, removing in-person mandates and paving the way for telemedicine startups to deliver “no touch” abortion pills by mail. Still, few Americans are aware medication is even an option.

Barriers to care. While easing the pressure on brick-and-mortar clinics, telemedicine abortion startups face an uphill climb; half of US states ban or restrict their use. Continued operation in those states could result in heavy penalties — in some, even felony charges.

Zooming out. Despite telemedicine becoming a $70B industry, abortion care remains deeply polarized. Skirting the issue, many leading sexual and reproductive telehealth startups like hims & hers, Tia, and Nurx have avoided offering the treatment altogether.

But with Roe in question, startups may be at a crossroads. Following the leak, Nurx notched a 300% spike—its biggest jump ever—in requests for emergency contraceptives such as Plan B.

Meanwhile, employers are under pressure to uphold care. Companies like Amazon and Apple have already promised to cover travel costs for those in trigger law states to seek out-of-state abortions.

Up next, highlighting the need for better data protection laws across digital health, some think fertility and cycle tracking apps could be used to prosecute those who seek abortion care.

Punchline: In the event Roe is overturned, care providers everywhere are buckling up for unprecedented levels of demand. In particular, abortion teleclinics have a complex landscape to navigate, no matter what decision SCOTUS lands on.