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European doctor who helps Americans get abortions says she's receiving 4,000 inquiries a day since Roe v. Wade overturned

Next steps after Roe v. Wade overturned
Next steps now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned 09:43

London - The European doctor who founded Aid Access, a telemedicine service that prescribes abortion pills to pregnant people in the United States, says it has gone from receiving 600-700 emails per day inquiring about abortion care, to 4,000 since Roe v. Wade was overturned.

"The situation in the U.S. now is exactly the same as in Poland or in Malta, where we've been working for more than 18 years now," Dr. Rebecca Gomperts told CBS News. "Because access to abortion is now becoming so difficult... I think that everybody that can should get the medicines in their homes for themselves, or in the future, for somebody else that they know."

Gomperts founded Aid Access in 2018 after more than a decade running similar groups that operate in countries around the world where abortion is illegal or access is restricted. Aid Access connects U.S. patients with a network of U.S.-based healthcare providers that can prescribe abortion pills or, where it is legally necessary, with Gomperts herself in Austria.

"From where I prescribe as a medical doctor, which is from Austria, I'm acting according to the regulations and also to the medical ethical guidelines and laws," Gomperts said.

Working on a new option

Given the shifting regulatory landscape in the U.S., Gomperts said her organizations are also pursuing a new long-term strategy to get one of the pills used for a medication abortion approved as a contraceptive in the United States and the European Union.

Medication abortions use a combination of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, without which the lining of a woman's uterus breaks down and a pregnancy can't continue. Misoprostol causes the uterus to empty.

"What we see with the mifepristone, especially, is the potential as a contraceptive," Gomperts said. "It can be a real on-demand method where women can use it as fits their situation, so if they have a lot of sex, they can have it every week. If they just have sex once in a while, they use it as a morning-after pill. And if they have an unwanted pregnancy, they can have it in the cabinet and they can use it for an early abortion," Gomperts said.

Gomperts said small clinical trials have already taken place to examine mifepristone's safety and efficacy as a contraceptive, but a larger trial is required to get it approved as a contraceptive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the equivalent agency in the European Union. 

She says her organizations have already obtained the necessary approvals to start a large-scale trial in Moldova, which would involve 949 women taking mifepristone once a week as a contraceptive for a year. She said her organizations were still raising the necessary funds to carry out the trial.

"In the end, what matters is that women that don't want to be pregnant, that they are not pregnant. And so they can do that in different ways. You can do it by using a contraceptive or morning after pill, but you can also do it by using the abortion pill," Gomperts said. 

Gomperts told CBS News that when she started her telemedicine organization "Women on Web" 18 years ago, "it was also very controversial, because people thought that it would not be possible, that it would be dangerous and whatever. Now, we're 18 years further, and we see now that it's mainstream medicine. So you need to look forward in order to change, and it's also part of our work to change the vision and the way that people are constructing these kinds of ideas."

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