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How a medication abortion startup raised $6.1 million after the fall of Roe v. Wade

October 19, 2022, 12:08 PM UTC
A white woman with blonde hair looks at the camera and smiles
Kiki Freedman, cofounder and CEO of Hey Jane.
Courtesy of Hey Jane

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! President Joe Biden promises to codify abortion rights if Democrats win the midterms; Anna May Wong is the first Asian American to appear on U.S. currency; and a medication abortion startup began fundraising after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Have a wonderful Wednesday.

Urgent funding. Around the same time a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization leaked in early May, the startup Hey Jane began conversations with investors about raising a new funding round.

The timing was no coincidence. Hey Jane is a telehealth abortion clinic that provides patients with medication abortion via mail. The company had so far raised just over $3 million from investors. But this time, its pitches took on heightened importance.

“We saw a huge surge of interest after the decision came down,” says cofounder and CEO Kiki Freedman. “People very much want to take a stand on the right side of history. It’s a moment when you can’t be neutral anymore.”

The startup began exploring a funding round in May but accelerated that effort after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade became official in late June. Between June and August, investors agreed to provide the business with $6.1 million in funding, Hey Jane announced this morning. The funds backing the startup are mostly women-led and include Ulu Ventures, the Helm, Amboy Street Ventures, Portfolia, and G9 Ventures. “When Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion access became even more important to us,” says Carli Sapir, an investor with Amboy Street Ventures, which backs sexual and women’s health companies.

A white woman with blonde hair looks at the camera and smiles
Kiki Freedman, cofounder and CEO of Hey Jane.
Courtesy of Hey Jane

Most investors this summer, Freedman recalls, were familiar with medication abortion—a welcome change from her 2021 fundraising when many conflated the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol with emergency contraception or Plan B.

As an early-stage startup, Hey Jane can only solve the issue of abortion access for a small subset of people. The service is available to patients in eight mostly blue states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. Patients seeking abortion medication must be over 18 with a gestational age of fewer than 10 weeks.

Since launching in 2021, as the Food and Drug Administration began allowing abortion pills sent by mail, the startup has served 20,000 patients. The FDA made its approval of by-mail medication abortion permanent in December of last year.

Operating a startup amid a labyrinth of regulatory hurdles that restrict how much of the American market one can serve is challenging. It could also spook investors with an eye on future growth. With upcoming midterm elections, a Republican-held Congress could pass a national abortion ban, and a GOP president elected in 2024 would likely sign that ban into law. But for some investors, urgency trumps risk right now.

“People are looking for alternatives to policy when they feel like policy has failed them,” says Freedman. “Because of the severity and urgency of the need, they had more of an appetite for that regulatory risk because it was just necessary.”

While Hey Jane must comply with federal and state laws, the startup is still seeking ways to serve more patients. With this new financing round, it plans to offer additional telemedicine services, like treatment for postpartum depression and anxiety, in all 50 states.

Emma Hinchliffe

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