In the wake of the SCOTUS leak, so-called “vaginal preppers” are getting ready for a post-Roe world where abortions may be banned in their entirety by stocking up on “morning-after pills” and other “abortion supplies.”
“It feels like you’re in a bad dream, and you’re trying to tell everybody else about it,” Kate Kelly, a human rights attorney based on the East Coast, told the Business Insider about the leak. “What was limited to a certain community is now everyone’s nightmare. That feels terrifying but also less lonely.”
Like survivalists preparing for the apocalypse, “vaginal preppers” have been gearing up for the criminalization of abortion. The term, used to describe community providers stocking up on abortion supplies, was coined by an anonymous abortion activist who recently spoke to The Atlantic about the phenomenon.
Individuals can reserve medication abortion pills for themselves online or at a local clinic, but advocates told Insider that hoarding them is a bad idea for two reasons — it limits supplies for those who need them, and the pills may expire before use.
The “Plan B” pill is a generally regarded as a safe method to terminate a pregnancy, according to a 2018 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that found that the process presents a very low risk of complications for those who take the so-called “morning-after pill.”
Abortion medication makes up over 50% of all US abortions and became widely available in the US in the year 2000, according to The Guttmacher Institute, an organization dedicated to reproductive health policy.
In the days following a leaked draft opinion that suggested that the landmark decision might be overturned, abortion pill sales have increased as people gear up for restrictions on the procedure.
Since the SCOTUS draft was leaked on May 2, telehealth abortion clinic Choix saw a 300% increase in interest in abortion pills, says the Insider. Similarly, requests for the abortion pill have tripled at Aid Access, a nonprofit organization that mails the pills to patients who aren’t able to obtain them locally, according to Reuters. Aid Access provides “advanced provision pills,” which allow individuals to order them without being pregnant.
Throughout 2021, the organization processed a total of 10,000 requests, but between May 3 and May 10, the week following the draft leak, they’d already processed 1,614 requests, Aid Access told Insider. Aid Access also said they saw a 2,800% increase in website traffic from May 2 to May 3.
The “vaginal preppers” are stocking up on the pills not only for potential use on themselves but to be able to create “safe havens” warehousing the pills and making them available so desperate women in a post-Roe world will not have to resort to the brutal “wire hanger” back-alley abortions of decades ago.
However, several sources told the Insider that stockpiling abortion medication is probably not a very good nor practical idea.
The abortion pills that are currently available all have limited shelf lives. Misoprostol for two years and mifepristone for up to five. Plan B, which also has a weight limit of 155 pounds, has a shelf life of four years.
Also, hoarding supplies, especially through local purchases, creates a “contraception desert, preventing people who need it who might not have the resources to buy it elsewhere from accessing that care,” said Steph Black, writer, and abortion activist.
“I think in a perfect world, everyone should have them in their cabinet,” Brenna McCaffrey, professor in the Anthropology department at Fordham University, told Insider.
However, she qualifies her comment by saying stockpiling on products like abortion pills “can be really dangerous, especially for people who are just reacting to the news, because there are still people in Texas, for example, right now who are already living under this future that people in other states are imagining, and they need those pills.”