Published in Qualitative Research in Health
A growing number of people in the United States seek to self-manage their abortions by self-sourcing abortion medications online. Prior research focuses on people's motivations for seeking self-management of abortion and experiences trying to obtain medications. However, little is known about the experiences of people in the U.S. who actually complete a self-managed abortion using medications they self-sourced online. We conducted anonymous in-depth interviews with 80 individuals who sought abortion medications through Aid Access, the only online telemedicine service that provides abortion medications in all 50 U.S. states. Through grounded theory analysis we identified five key themes: 1) participants viewed Aid Access as a “godsend”; 2) Fears of scams, shipping delays, and surveillance made ordering pills online a “nerve-racking” experience; 3) a “personal touch” calmed fears and fostered trust in Aid Access; 4) participants were worried about the “what ifs” of the self-managed abortion experience; and 5) overall, participants felt that online telemedicine met their important needs. Our findings demonstrate that online telemedicine provided by Aid Access not only provided a critical service, but also offered care that participants deemed legitimate and trustworthy.