I’ve never been a member of the Boy Scouts or the Coast Guard, but I do believe in always being prepared. Maybe it’s because I was obsessed with Scar from “The Lion King” as a kid. Maybe it’s the anxiety disorder. Either way, I speak softly (OK, maybe not so much) and carry a big purse. It’s full of snacks and sunscreen and pocket knives and various tools for rendering first aid. I keep a blanket in my car all year round and another, bigger first aid kit. And it’s why I ordered abortion pills off the internet last week, even though I’m not currently pregnant.

I’d like to assume that Maine will always protect my right to terminate a pregnancy. But we all know that particular right is only one election away from vanishing. (Can you imagine if every autumn we had to put up signs saying “VOTE TO PROTECT YOUR ACCESS TO CHEMOTHERAPY”?) If the Republican Party comes into power here, they will try to restrict access to abortion. They’ve said so time and again. And even if it remains legal here, what if – god forbid – I have to move? What if I’m broke? A first-trimester abortion costs roughly $500 here in Maine. In other places it’s more expensive, and insurance doesn’t always pay for it. What if I just want to avoid walking through the crowds of angry, shouting jerks just to get to a clinic?

There are a great many reasons why a person such as, but not limited to, myself, might want to keep a medication abortion on hand. Knowledge is power. This knowledge may help you or someone you care about take back power over their bodies.

Procuring these medications was simple. I went to the website of Aid Access, a spinoff of Women on Waves, two abortion-access organizations run by Dutch physician Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who is basically the Indiana Jones of abortion access. This organization is currently offering “advance provision” of medication abortion pills to American women. That is, you can be prescribed the medication even if you don’t need it at that exact moment, like a prescription for painkillers before you’ve had surgery. I filled out a survey on the Aid Access website, which is reviewed by their doctors. I submitted identification confirmation through their secure, encrypted email. I made a payment of $150 through Stax Payments (Aid Access offers financial aid for those who can’t afford the full sticker price). And the order was filled by Honeybee Pharmacy and sent to me in the mail.

The whole process, from first Google search of “aid access advance provision” to my discreetly wrapped package arriving in the mail, took less than a week. This service is available in all 50 states, but for states with more restrictions on abortion medication and telehealth, the pills are prescribed by a European doctor and sent to a pharmacy in India for fulfillment. This adds a few weeks onto the processing time. An extra few weeks isn’t a big deal if you aren’t pregnant but can be a huge problem if you are currently facing an unplanned pregnancy, as abortion pills are guaranteed to be effective only up to the 12th week of pregnancy. Another reason why planning ahead of time is a good idea.

Mifepristone (also known as RU-486, which makes it sound very cool and sci-fi) stops the growth of an embryo. The second medication, misoprostol, also known by the brand name Cytotec and commonly used to treat stomach ulcers, causes contractions, which force the uterus to expel its contents. Knowledge about these medications and their use and necessary dosage will be ever more vital in the coming years. The combination of mifepristone and misoprostol is 95 percent effective in terminating a first-trimester pregnancy. Research indicates that misoprostol alone is effective in terminating a first-trimester pregnancy 80 percent of the time.

The medications that I have come with a two-year “expiration date” on them. I use the term “expiration date” lightly because that’s only as long as they are guaranteed to be effective for – but as anyone who has taken a leftover prescription medication knows, it’s quite probable that they will continue to be effective for several years, as long as they are stored in a cool, dry place. (I took a fluconazole pill from 2017 a few weeks ago and it worked!) As for safety, medication abortion is incredibly safe. It’s a lot safer than Tylenol, which you can buy a lethal dose of at any supermarket.

When I was a kid, my mom told me the three biggest lies ever told were, and I quote, “The check is in the mail; the government will take care of it, and I promise you won’t get pregnant.” So maybe you don’t think you’ll get unexpectedly pregnant. And maybe you think the government will protect your ability to terminate that pregnancy. But me? I’m not going to put my future in anyone’s hands but my own. And as Scar from “The Lion King” so wisely put it: “Our teeth and ambitions are bared. Be prepared!”

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:
Twitter: @mainemillennial

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