From buddy comedies to dramas, movies focused on abortion barriers tell a story that shouldn’t need to be told
By KYLIE CHEUNG
PUBLISHED JUNE 6, 2021
Last week, Hulu's "Plan B" became the latest movie to focus on the complex, stigmatizing and sexist barriers to reproductive care, which are especially difficult for young people. In Natalie Morales' directorial debut, two South Dakota high school students, Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and Lupe (Victoria Morales) have 24 hours to find emergency contraception after Sunny's first sexual encounter. The problem is, the only pharmacist in their small hometown denies Sunny access to the pill citing the "conscience clause."
To be clear, emergency contraception is entirely different from abortion care, preventing rather than ending a pregnancy that's already underway. But other than that important distinction, "Plan B" continues a growing trend of movies in which seeking abortion or other reproductive care through tremendous cost, geographical and legislative barriers isn't just a subplot — it's the main storyline.
Covid-19 may end up inadvertently speeding up abortion progress in America — and exposing conservative hypocrisy along the way.
May 13, 2021
By Jessica Valenti, New York Times
Last month, the Food and Drug Administration announced that people seeking abortion pills during the Covid-19 pandemic will no longer have to visit a doctor’s office to get a prescription. Under the Trump administration, patients were required to receive the first of the medication’s two doses in person, a mandate upheld by the Supreme Court in January. The new policy instead allows for telemedicine consultations and pills sent by mail.
The decision is a practical one for the Covid era: It reduces unnecessary face time in doctor’s offices, which cuts down the potential for exposure. It could also be a huge blow to the anti-abortion movement. Groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have been pushing the Biden administration to make the F.D.A.’s decision permanent. Last week, in a legal filing, the agency announced it was reviewing their restrictions on the medication.
BY ABIGAIL ABRAMS
APRIL 13, 2021
The Biden Administration is removing restrictions on mailing abortion pills during the COVID-19 pandemic, a reversal from the Trump Administration’s policy that marks a new phase in the national debate over abortion rights.
The move temporarily changes longstanding Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules governing mifepristone—one of two drugs used to terminate early pregnancies—that required patients to pick up the pills in-person from a medical provider. Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock sent a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine on Monday saying that her agency reviewed recent evidence and found that using telemedicine to provide abortion pills would not increase risks and would help patients avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.
Making the abortion pill available through pharmacies on prescription can improve abortion access—especially for those without an abortion clinic nearby.
by DANIEL GROSSMAN and SALLY RAFIE
In the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities to abortion care across the country. Last spring, at least 11 states attempted to exploit the crisis to enact additional abortion restrictions, falsely labeling it non-essential care.
In an attempt to ease abortion access during the pandemic, a federal judge in July 2020 halted the in-person dispensing requirement for the abortion pill to allow patients to receive it by mail. However, this was reversed by the Supreme Court’s decision in January 2021 to once again enforce federal restrictions and clamp down on access to this critical medicine.
Medication abortion was briefly available online in some states, but a court ruling blocked it. Advocates want it back.
BY REBECCA GRANT
LAST SUMMER, Cindy Adam and Lauren Dubey received the news they had hoped for, but hadn’t expected to get so soon. Their new telemedicine clinic would be able to offer remote medication abortion services, at least for the time being.
Medication abortion — which most commonly involves taking two medications, 24 to 48 hours apart, during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy — has been available in the U.S. since 2000. But, despite a growing chorus of advocates and experts who say remote access is just as safe as in-clinic care, the Food and Drug Administration requires providers to dispense mifepristone, the first of the two medications, inside the walls of a clinic, hospital, or medical office, citing the risk of complications. Most abortion providers interpreted this language to mean they could not mail mifepristone to patients’ homes, rendering fully remote abortion care impossible.
March 30, 2021
One year into the pandemic, ensuring access to abortion is more critical than ever. Being able to decide whether and when to give birth has always been central to women’s economic security, and is of particular importance now: women—especially women of color—are bearing the brunt of the job loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, because of restrictions on insurance coverage of abortion, abortion services are already inaccessible for many low-income women, including many women insured by Medicaid. The Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, reintroduced in Congress March 25 by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), would take a crucial step in making affordable abortion care a reality for these women.
The ACLU is suing the US territory over restrictive laws that block people from accessing telemedicine medication abortions
Michelle Broder Van Dyke in Honolulu
Mon 22 Feb 2021
Getting an abortion on Guam, a remote US territory in the Pacific Ocean, has never been simple. Before 2016 there were only two abortion doctors on the entire island, and anti-abortion protesters would often stand outside their clinics with signs.
But since 2018, it has been impossible. That year Guam lost its last abortion provider when Dr William Freeman retired and moved away, and the doctor who took over refused to conduct them. This means that the closest US abortion clinic is now in Hawaiʻi, an eight-hour and $1,000 flight away. The number of abortions on Guam dropped from more than 200 a year in 2017 to zero.
If temporary rules allowing women to terminate early pregnancies in their own homes with two pills are removed then more women will be left in crisis
Feb 21, 2021, The Independent
The English and Welsh governments are consulting the public about whether they should revoke temporary rules which allow women to terminate early pregnancies in their own homes with the use of two pills. The rules were brought in to reduce the need for face-to-face appointments as Covid-19 swept through the population.
It is vital that women continue to be allowed access to these drugs for use at home for early medical abortions. This method of termination is safe and allows women to manage their reproductive health privately and respectfully. Despite concerns being raised by anti-choice campaigners that allowing women to obtain early abortions at home will lead to misuse of the medication, the evidence so far does not support those allegations.
FDA’s regulation of medication abortion must be guided by science, not politics.
Jan 26, 2021
Erectile dysfunction drugs have a mortality rate nearly four times greater than Mifeprex, otherwise known as the abortion pill. But despite being less safe, erectile dysfunction drugs are available over the counter at pharmacies. Mifeprex, by contrast, remains one of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) most heavily regulated drugs—and is even more restricted than fentanyl, an opioid.
This divergence in the regulation of Mifeprex compared to other drugs stems from highly politicized debates over abortion and reproductive rights. FDA’s regulation of Mifeprex, however, should be informed by science, not politics. Despite a demonstrated safety record, Mifeprex remains subject to restrictions that significantly limit its availability to consumers—restrictions that should be reserved for the most dangerous of drugs.
BY ERIC ROGERS | SENIOR STAFF
Jan 25, 2021
UC Berkeley School of Public Health researchers found that four out of the five most presented webpages in response to “abortion pill” queries on Google were less than 50% accurate, in a study published Thursday.
Of the top five most presented webpages, three were anti-abortion, according to lead researcher and first-year doctoral student Betsy Pleasants. She added that these anti-abortion webpages — American Pregnancy Association, Abortion Pill Rescue and Abortion Procedures — had “very limited” factual and clinical information and are covertly affiliated with religious organizations.