Here’s how Utahns can get an abortion pill or emergency contraception now and if Roe is overturned

Abortion access may soon change in Utah, depending on how the U.S. Supreme Court rules this summer.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Hundreds of protesters march down State Street after protest hosted by Planned Parenthood Association of Utah on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, in response to a leaked draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, a 1973 landmark abortion case.

Editor’s Note • The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022, clearing the way for Utah’s abortion trigger law to go into effect. Read more here.

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If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, and Utah’s trigger law goes into effect, medication abortions would be limited in the same way as in-clinic, surgical abortions.

Currently, abortion pills are generally available early in a pregnancy, up to 11 weeks, according to Dr. David Turok, an obstetrician/gynecologist practicing in Salt Lake City.

“The effectiveness depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy when you take the medicine,” according to Planned Parenthood’s website.

A medication abortion involves two drugs: mifepristone, which is taken first, followed by misoprostol.

The mifepristone “blocks your body’s own progesterone, stopping the pregnancy from growing,” according to Planned Parenthood. Then, the misoprostol, which can be taken up to 48 hours after, “causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus.”

“The same pills used for abortion are also used to treat miscarriage and those are provided at many hospitals in the state,” Turok said.

Here is a look at how and when Utahns can get the abortion pill and emergency contraception.

Medication abortion

To get a medication abortion, Utahns have to go in person to a medical provider and follow all of the requirements outlined in state law, including the 72-hour mandatory waiting period, going through the online information module and a face-to-face consultation to provide informed consent.

“You can obtain face-to-face informed consent anywhere in the state from any licensed provider, including physicians, nurses, and social workers. All Planned Parenthood health centers in Utah can provide ‘informed consent’ to women who are considering terminating her pregnancy,” according to Planned Parenthood Association of Utah’s website.

Medication abortions are available at three Planned Parenthood Association of Utah locations — the Metro Health Center, Salt Lake Health Center and Logan Health Center — and at Wasatch Women’s Center in Salt Lake City. (In-clinic, surgical abortions are available only at the Metro Health Center and Wasatch Women’s Center. Private physicians provide some abortions, too.)

If Roe v. Wade is overturned, and states add restrictions to abortion access, more people may try to get abortion pills through the mail, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

“Many Republican legislatures have tried banning the pills from being shipped or prescribed,” the Post reported. “But some women have been able to circumvent the restrictions by getting their pills online from overseas pharmacies that can’t be reached by U.S. laws.”

Emergency contraception

The morning-after pill, such as Plan B or ella, is not a medication abortion. It is emergency contraception.

Which morning-after pill a person should use depends on their weight and how long it has been since they had unprotected sex, among other factors. For instance, Plan B may not work if you weigh 155 pounds or more, according to Planned Parenthood.

Certain IUDs can also be used for emergency contraception. Planned Parenthood offers more information about these options on its website.

Utahns can go to Planned Parenthood to get Plan B. It is also available at pharmacies in Utah without a prescription.

[Read: Here’s where Utahns can go if abortions are banned in the Beehive State.]

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.