Abortion pill mifepristone: An explainer and research roundup about its history, safety and future

Amid pending court cases and ballot initiatives, journalistic coverage of medication abortion has never been more crucial. This piece aims to help inform the narrative with scientific evidence.

by Naseem S. Miller
November 1, 2023

Access to mifepristone, a medication that’s used for the safe termination of early pregnancy, hangs in the balance while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up a case that could determine the legal future of the abortion medication.

In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mifepristone should not be prescribed past the seventh week of pregnancy, prescribed via telemedicine, or shipped to patients through the mail. In September, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to consider a challenge to that ruling.

Continued: https://journalistsresource.org/health/mifepristone-research-roundup/

Justice Dept and abortion pill manufacturer ask Supreme Court to hear case on mifepristone access


Danco Laboratories, the drugmaker of the abortion pill mifepristone, has asked the Supreme Court to review a lower court's decision limiting access to the pill, the company announced in a news release Friday. On Friday evening, the Justice Department also asked the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit's judgment.

Danco and the Justice Department want the Supreme Court to reverse the circuit court's ruling that would prevent women from obtaining the drug by mail order and would prohibit the pill after seven weeks of pregnancy.

Continued: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/abortion-pill-mifepristone-fda-approval-justice-department-supreme-court/

Mefeego Pack approved as 1st abortion pill in Japan

April 28, 2023
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's health ministry approved Friday for the first time the sale of an oral abortion pill, giving women in early pregnancy an alternative to the surgical procedure.

The pill, called Mefeego Pack developed by British pharmaceutical company Linepharma International Ltd., can terminate a pregnancy of up to 9 weeks of gestation, and is considered safer than the surgical abortions that have been used hereto.

Continued:  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230428/p2g/00m/0sc/071000c

USA – The Plaintiffs Trying to Ban the Abortion Pill Admitted They Have No Case

MARCH 21, 2023

There are so many problems with the federal case in Texas challenging the approval of mifepristone, the first of two drugs given as part of a medication abortion. On the procedural side of things, just to name a few, the statute of limitations has long run out, the plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies, they haven’t identified a provision of law that has been violated, and their claimed injury makes no sense. On substance, again just to name a few, mifepristone is one of the safest drugs on the market, pregnancy is a medical condition for which the FDA can approve drugs, and the act on which the case relies has been basically a dead letter for a century. This case really is frivolous and should garner no real attention.

But, of course, we’re talking about this case repeatedly because of the real fear that the plaintiffs successfully hand-picked one of the few federal judges in the country who will ignore all this and rule in their favor. So, there is no such thing as giving this case too much scrutiny. And in that vein, it’s worth explaining how the release of the transcript from last Wednesday’s argument reveals yet another flaw with the case—lack of redressability—that should end the case immediately.

Continued: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/03/abortion-pill-mifepristone-misoprostol-ban-fail.html

1st oral abortion pill steps closer to approval in Japan

Jan 27, 2023

A pharmaceutical advisory body for Japan's health ministry on Friday expressed no objection to the manufacturing and marketing of an abortion pill, bringing the medication a step closer to becoming the first of its kind to gain approval in the country.

Abortions in early stages of pregnancies in Japan are currently limited to surgical procedures, and the oral pill, if approved, is seen as a new option that could lighten both physical and mental stress on women.

Continued: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/01/a3cd9774c4b3-1st-oral-abortion-pill-steps-closer-to-approval-in-japan.html

The Abortion Pill’s Secret Money Men

The untold story of the private equity investors behind Mifeprex—and their escalating legal battle to cash in post-Dobbs.

Mother Jones, MARCH+APRIL 2023 ISSUE

In 1993, a group of activists rented a warehouse in suburban Westchester County, New York. It was smaller than they’d hoped and had limited ventilation, but the two other locations they’d tried to rent belonged to universities and required jumping through too many bureaucratic hoops—the exact sort of paper trail this group was trying to avoid.

Led by renowned pro-choice activist Lawrence Lader, their goal was to replicate RU-486, the revolutionary abortion pill developed in the 1980s by French manufacturer Roussel-­Uclaf—which was unwilling to navigate American abortion politics to bring the pill stateside.

Continued: https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/01/abortion-pill-mifepristone-mifeprex-roe-dobbs-private-equity/

The Father of the Abortion Pill

The 96-year-old scientist who came up with an idea for an “unpregnancy pill” decades ago has led an eventful life, from his teenage days in the French Resistance to his friendships with famous artists.

By Pam Belluck
Jan. 17, 2023

When the idea struck him, nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Étienne-Émile Baulieu believed it could be revolutionary. Creating a pill that could abort a pregnancy would transform reproductive health care, he thought, allowing women to avoid surgery, act earlier and carry out their decisions in private.

“When science meets women’s cause, it is irresistible,” Dr. Baulieu, 96, a French endocrinologist and biochemist often called the father of the abortion pill, said on a recent Sunday afternoon in his apartment in a century-old building a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.

Continued: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/17/health/abortion-pill-inventor.html

The FDA’s Step Forward on Medication Abortion Isn’t Even Close to Enough

Incremental progress will not defeat conservatives’ all-out war on abortion pills.
JAN 05, 2023

On Tuesday, the FDA announced the process by which retail pharmacies could become certified to dispense mifepristone, the first drug in the medication abortion regimen. The agency’s decision filled in the details of an announcement made in December of 2021 that patients would no longer be required to go to a clinic to pick up medication abortion and that certified pharmacies would be allowed to dispense it.

This action may be a step forward, but it is far too tepid to fight back against the war that the anti-abortion movement is waging against abortion pills. Meeting this moment will require much more.

Continued: https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2023/01/medication-abortion-pills-fda-pharmacies.html

Progressives failed Canadian women on the abortion pill

The struggle to get Canadian women a good non-surgical option for abortion received little attention for years

Jamie Sarkonak,  National Post
Jun 30, 2022 

Before 2017, nearly all Canadian women seeking abortions had to undergo surgery, while women elsewhere could choose medication to induce a miscarriage.

For decades, Canada didn’t have the “gold standard” abortion pill, mifepristone (also known as RU-486, or Mifegymiso). After being used in France for 30 years and the United States for 15, the abortion pill was finally approved in Canada in 2015 under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, becoming available to the public in 2017. Among progressive politicians, only Thomas Mulcair’s New Democratic Party had pressed the issue. The Liberals did nothing. On the last major front for Canadian abortion rights, progressive politicians were largely silent.

Continued: https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jamie-sarkonak-progressives-failed-canadian-women-on-the-abortion-pill

Canada – Not quite there: abortion pill access in Sask. still limited

“If you have practitioners unwilling to oversee medical terminations, it doesn’t matter if they’re covered by healthcare or not.”

Larissa Kurz
Jun 18, 2022

Saskatchewan’s approval of an abortion pill under the provincial drug plan was hailed as a victory by sexual health advocates who had long pressed the government to improve options and access for pregnancy termination.

But five years later, the move has fallen short of expectations.

Continued: https://leaderpost.com/news/saskatchewan/not-quite-there-abortion-pill-access-in-sask-still-limited