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For many working in the reproductive health space over the last year, the idea that the Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade — the court decision granting access to abortion in the US — wasn’t just a possibility, it felt like sure thing.
“We had a good idea it was coming for several months now, and began working on the donation bank when it became really clear that a decision was going to be made in June,” Stix cofounder Jamie Norwood told Technical.ly.
She was talking about Restart, the Philly-based health startup’s new emergency contraceptive. The company was launched in 2019 by Norwood and cofounder Cynthia Plotch with direct-to-consumer pregnancy tests, and quickly added fertility, STD and UTI tests. The startup also facilitates education around reproductive health and general wellness.
When the pandemic began, access to healthcare got even more challenging, and added political turmoil over reproductive rights have made it a fraught time to be a woman in the US, Norwood said. When a draft of a SCOTUS decision set to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked last month, the startup got to work. It had been developing its emergency contraceptive product, and approached corporate partners who were mission-oriented or politically active about donating to create a bank of free morning-after pills.
It also opened up the site for donations, and within 24 hours and received more than $20,000 in 24 hours — and it’s since raised more than $75,000, which will provide thousands of doses of Restart to anyone who needs one, no questions asked, Norwood said. Stix works with a third-party, FDA-regulated manufacturer for its medications and tests. And if customers want to purchase a pill, they may do so for $38, cheaper than other brands that can run as high as $50.
“That’s not something that everyone can afford, and we’d really like to offer it at a subsidized rate or free,” Norwood said.
In partnership with brands like Universal Standard, Dame, Cake and Awkward Essentials, Stix launched the Restart Donation Bank on Tuesday. Restart, like other emergency contraceptive, helps stop pregnancy from occurring when taken within three days of birth control failure or unprotected sex. If ordered, the Restart pill will arrive either same day or overnight.
“It’s preventing pregnancy before it happens,” Norwood said. “It should not be controversial, and education about that is really important.” The bank will continue providing free Restart doses as long as it’s sustained by donations, and the product is and will remain available for regular purchase.
The 11-person Stix continues to add to its library of health and wellness resources, and added a new digital experience accessed via QR codes on packaging. The company’s tests and products walk you through how to take them, and offer meditation and education while awaiting results.
For those impacted by changes to reproductive healthcare, and those working in the space to broaden access, it’s been an anxious few years. Norwood said she’s glad to get the opportunity to do work that the government will not, and the Restart bank is a prime of example of that.
“A lot of people right now feel really scared and helpless and want to do something about it,” Norwood said. Donating to the bank “is such a tangible thing you can do.”
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