In a Post-Roe World, Hey Jane Is Fighting for On-Demand Abortion Care
Since the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case which asserted abortion care was protected under the Constitution, many abortion providers have ramped up teams to keep up with increased demand. One such NYC-based company, Hey Jane, is focused on telehealth abortion care, which delivers abortion pills to patients with or without insurance.
“We’re creating a healthcare company that pushes the boundaries of access with convenient, inclusive and patient-driven care,” Gaby Izarra, the company’s co-founder and head of growth and marketing, told Built In prior to the Supreme Court ruling. “Hey Jane integrates emotional, community and clinical support into a single medical experience. Until now, we’ve been using this high-touch model to provide abortion care, which is arguably one of the most stigmatized treatments menstruating people face today.”
Hey Jane has also been active in the women’s health ecosystem, partnering with abortion clinics and raising awareness and education around abortion care.
“One big hurdle we’re tackling is that many people still don’t know about medication abortion — taking abortion medication to end a pregnancy,” Izarra said. “Although it’s become the most common abortion method in the United States — now accounting for 54 percent — only one in five people know it’s an option.”
The abortion pill consists of two pills (mifepristone and misoprostol) that can be taken up to 11 weeks into pregnancy. This medication, which was approved in 2000, is a common procedure that has accounted for more than half of abortions as of 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
When the pandemic necessitated the availability of telehealth services, the FDA granted access to abortion pills by mail — something that had been federally restricted. Despite the FDA’s action, several states continued to limit access, forcing startups to assess how they can step up to help those in need.
Since the draft of the Supreme Court decision leaked in May, Politico reported that telehealth providers have seen an uptick in demand for abortion pills. Hey Jane told Built In in late May that it saw a 24 to 34 percent increase in people seeking care. That number has only gone up since Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to Hey Jane.
Hey Jane’s operations are currently limited to six states: New York, California, Washington, Illinois, Colorado and New Mexico. Izarra said the decision to focus on these states was done strategically, even before Roe v. Was was overturned. The decision came from an expected surge in demand for abortion services in those states due in large part to people traveling from restrictive states for care.
“Hey Jane will continue operating in all six states that we presently serve, and we plan to expand operations to more states in the coming months. Already we’ve provided safe, effective and private medication abortion to almost 10,000 patients in only 15 months, and we’ve ramped up our team to accommodate this significant increase in demand,” Hey Jane CEO and co-founder Kiki Freedman recently said in a statement.
States with restrictive laws such as Texas and Oklahoma will likely force patients to travel across state lines to receive abortion services, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Hey Jane utilizes a team of outsourced lawyers to ensure the company stays legally compliant in the wake of any possible law changes in the future.
“Patients in states without abortion restriction have been reporting long wait times to be seen in clinics for months,” Freedman said in a statement. “Those healthcare systems will be even further strained under this new decision and individuals who want to access an abortion, regardless of where they live, will need more options to obtain this essential healthcare. Already the majority of abortions are performed through medication and abortion care via mailed medication will be a crucial form of access for many people moving forward.”
As tech companies become aware of these laws, so do VC firms. Not all have been able to invest due to reluctance from limited partners, but the Supreme Court decision did inspire plenty of support from VC firms.
“We’ve been lucky to be supported by many mission-aligned investors, and since the Alito draft leak, we’ve been fielding an influx of inbound interest from outraged VCs,” Izarra said in late May.
Hey Jane is also looking to expand. The startup is currently seeking a new head of growth and marketing to lead its business into a period of new growth — and for whatever comes in the future.
“We’re really trying to push the boundaries of access, and telehealth is our key to achieving that. It means better patient monitoring and communication,” Izarra said. “Our patients are just a text away from our full care team, so we’re able to provide unparalleled levels of support — not only from a medical perspective but an emotional one as well.”