Are Abortion Pills Legal in the U.S.?


  • Yes. But some people have still been arrested and jailed for using abortion pills to end their own pregnancy.

  • If you are questioned by the police or arrested for using pills to end your own pregnancy, call or message our helpline.

Is it Legal For Me to Buy Abortion Pills Online?

The answer to that question is not simple. It might be a legal risk to order abortion pills online, but it depends.

  • No one has been arrested or investigated just for ordering abortion pills online. However, we know of three cases where women who ordered abortion pills online were later charged with crimes for having an abortion. In these cases, people have been charged with a crime when someone reported them to the police, or when fetal remains from their pregnancy were found and reported. The fact that they ordered abortion pills online was used against them in these cases.

    • In the first case, in Indiana, the woman was convicted and spent time in jail. Her sentence was overturned and she was released.

    • In the second case, in Idaho, a court said that because people have the right to an abortion, they can’t be charged with a crime for ordering abortion pills online.

    • In the third case, in Georgia, the woman was charged with a misdemeanor for possessing a prescription drug without a prescription, but all the charges were eventually dropped.

What If I Have A Prescription?​​

  • It is generally legal to order any kind of medicine, including pills, from a licensed online pharmacy, if you have a prescription. But when pharmacies are in other countries, they are usually not allowed to send prescription medicine into the United States. 

  • But the government does not, at this time, enforce that law against people who order prescription medicine just for their own use. So, for example, if someone ordered diabetes medicine from India, they would probably not get in legal trouble. It is the same with abortion pills.

Is it Against the Law to Bring Back Medicine from Outside the U.S.?

  • The same law as above says that people are not supposed to bring medicine from other countries into the United States. That law applies to ordering any kind of medicine sent from another country, or bringing it back to the U.S. after going to another country. 


 Is it legal to sell extra or left-over abortion pills or give them away to someone else? 

  • Abortion pills are prescription medicines in the U.S. So, all the laws that apply to other prescription medicines also apply to abortion pills, including laws that say you cannot give/sell someone else pills that you were prescribed for your own use.

Are Abortion Pills the Same as the "Morning After Pill"/Emergency Contraception?

  • No. Emergency contraception, also called the “morning after pill” is a pill or pills you take after sex or a sexual assault to stop a pregnancy from happening.

  • It works best when it is taken as soon as possible after sex or a sexual assault.

  • If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will not cause an abortion. To learn more about emergency contraception, go here.

  • Emergency contraception is also legal, and you can get it over the counter no matter how old you are. If you have health insurance, it may cover the cost. Some states cover the cost if you are low-income, even if you don't have insurance.

  • Abortion pills are different from emergency contraception. Abortion pills end a pregnancy. In the U.S., doctors usually prescribe two pills - one is called mifepristone and the other is called misoprostol - to end a pregnancy. People also take misoprostol alone to end a pregnancy.

  • The websites below have more information about abortion pills:

  • International Women's Health Coalition & Gynuity Health Projects Fact Sheets:     

  • SASS (Self-Managed Abortion Safe and Supported)

  • Plan C 

Are Abortion Pills Dangerous?


What is Aid Access? What is Happening with Their Lawsuit?


  • Aid Access is an online provider of abortion pills. 

  • In September the federal Food & Drug Administration (“FDA”) sent Aid Access a letter telling them to stop what they are doing.

  • Instead of stopping, Aid Access filed a lawsuit against the FDA.

  • People have a lot of questions right now about the Aid Access lawsuit and people’s abortion rights. We will help answer some of these questions below.  


What Does the Aid Access Lawsuit Mean for People Who Got Prescriptions from Them?


  • At this time, the lawsuit does not change any of the legal rights and laws that affect people who self-manage abortion with pills they get from online providers.


Is it Legal to Get a Prescription for Abortion Pills from Aid Access?


  • There is no law that prevents a person from talking to a doctor in another country or even getting a prescription from them. But what the law says about getting the pills is more complicated.

  • Click here to scroll up to the section on ordering pills online.

Does it matter what state I live in? What if I live in a state that has passed laws that make it harder to get an abortion?


  • It is important to remember that every person in the United States has the constitutional and human right to an abortion. 

  • As of right now, no one has been arrested just for the act of ordering abortion pills online, that has not changed. But having prescription drugs without a valid prescription is considered a crime.

  • We are paying attention to the lawsuit and will update our website with new information if it has any affect on people's rights. 

  • If you are contacted by the police or a court as part of the Aid Access lawsuit and/or if you are arrested or investigated in connection to ordering pills online, contact us. We can connect you with a lawyer that can help.

  • Click here for some know your rights information about what to do if you are arrested or questioned by police.

I Need Medical Information About My Miscarriage or Self-Managed Abortion Now, Who Can I Talk To?

  • Our helpline cannot provide medical advice or information, but you can contact the M+A hotline, which is operated by doctors that can give you expert medical advice. You can contact the M+A helpline at 1-833-246-2632 or visit their website at https://www.mahotline.org/ for more information.

On this page, we provide links to organizations and websites that are not a part of If/When/How or our helpline. We are not part of those organizations and If/When/How is not responsible for any information they offer and/or services they provide. We are not responsible for any actions you take based on the information and/or services they provide.

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2019 If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice