Twenty years after medication abortion was approved in the U.S., patients are still jumping through hoops to access it.
By Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost US
Twenty years ago today, the Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone, a drug used to terminate early pregnancies that held the promise of revolutionizing abortion care in the U.S.
Colloquially called the abortion pill, mifepristone is taken in combination with another drug, misoprostol, and allows patients under 10 weeks pregnant to have an abortion in the privacy of their home, instead of inside an abortion clinic. Reproductive rights activists lobbying for the drug envisioned a future where women could have the pills prescribed by their primary physician and dispensed at their local pharmacy, transforming abortion into just another part of normal health care.
by MARIE BASS
The approval of medication abortion care—20 years ago on Monday—was supposed to usher in a new era of abortion access in this country, to lessen the political and cultural stigma of abortion, to end the vitriol, quiet the noise, and give women an important new option to end an early pregnancy. This vision has yet to be realized.
Instead, with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the vacancy on the Supreme Court, the constitutional right to abortion is under greater threat than ever before.
BY REPS. DIANA DEGETTE (D-COLO.), BARBARA LEE (D-CALIF.), JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-ILL.) AND AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MASS.), OPINION CONTRIBUTORS
Over the years, there have been numerous challenges in the way the United States has approached reproductive health. We rely on our public health institutions to make decisions using the best data to get the best outcomes. Twenty years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved mifepristone, the pill for medication abortion with numerous restrictions on who could prescribe the medication, where it could be taken and where it could be dispensed.
Now, 20 years later, medication abortion care has been used by more than 4 million women and has proven to be a safe and effective option to end an early pregnancy. Mifepristone has long had the potential to transform health care access — yet, the same restrictions the FDA first placed on medication abortion needlessly remain in place to this day. This must change.
By USHMA D. UPADHYAY
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
Twenty years ago this month, the Food and Drug Administration approved a medication destined to become known as the abortion pill. Mifepristone, then called RU486, was going to change everything about abortion — it would expand access and remove the stigma.
I remember devouring the news because this little pill was going to give women reproductive autonomy and let them control if and when they have children. At the time, I was just starting my Ph.D. in public health. The news inspired and exhilarated me, and I knew that the abortion pill is what I wanted to focus my career on.
Both abortion advocates and opponents have used the COVID-19 crisis to further their policy goals.
Carrie N. Baker
Sep 21, 2020
The gendered dimensions of the political response to the COVID-19 crisis are manifesting clearly in efforts to close abortion clinics, as well as in campaigns led by doctors, lawyers, and reproductive rights advocates to expand access to telemedicine abortion during the pandemic and beyond.
Anti-abortion politicians in states across the country have used the COVID-19 pandemic to attempt to restrict abortion, arguing that abortion is not essential health care and that banning the procedure will conserve personal protective equipment for COVID-19 cases. In March and April of 2020, 12 states tried to restrict abortion, including Alaska, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, and West Virginia, among others. Legislators in Kentucky passed a bill to allow the state’s Attorney General to block abortion access during COVID-19, but the Kentucky governor vetoed the bill.
Changes to medical technology will change the politics of the country’s original culture war
Sep 19th 2020 edition
When women used to tell Susan Long (not her real name), a doctor in Washington state, that they wanted to terminate a pregnancy, she would refer them to an abortion clinic. Today, they need not even walk into her office: after an online consultation, she prescribes two pills, which she posts, along with instructions on how to take them several hours apart.
It is difficult to exaggerate the benefit for “innumerable” women of being able to have an abortion at home, without having to arrange a trip to a clinic, she says, describing some of them. The university student living with her conservative parents, hundreds of miles from the nearest abortion clinic. The woman whose violent husband is vehemently pro-life. Single mothers, strapped for cash and child care. Those whose frail health prevents them risking exposure to covid-19 at a doctor’s office.
UBC-led study offers lessons for other nations on deregulating mifepristone
UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Research News
NEWS RELEASE 14-SEP-2020
Removing restrictions on how mifepristone--the medical abortion drug--can be prescribed and dispensed in Canada greatly improved access to abortion, especially in rural communities across the country.
That's one of
the key findings of new University of British Columbia-led research published
today in the Annals of Family Medicine.
The Trump administration could force abortion patients to have unnecessary surgeries.
By Ian Millhiser
Sep 9, 2020
Last June, Chief Justice John Roberts provided a brief reprieve to abortion providers — joining his liberal colleagues in striking down a Louisiana anti-abortion law. But that reprieve could be very short-lived: A case now before the justices could give them a vehicle to undercut the right to terminate a pregnancy. If the Trump administration gets its way in
Food and Drug Administration v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Supreme Court could force many patients seeking abortions to undergo unnecessary surgeries, despite the fact that those patients could safely terminate their pregnancy with medication — and that’s assuming that these individuals are able to find a doctor to perform the surgery in the first place.
They're asking the FDA to declare the pill used in about 40% of abortions an “imminent hazard to public health.”
By Carter Sherman
September 2, 2020
Sen. Ted Cruz is leading the charge on a Hail Mary plea to the Food and Drug and Administration: He wants the agency to cut off access to a pill that’s used in nearly 40% of U.S. abortions.
On Monday, the Texas Republican led a group of 20 senators in sending a letter to the commissioner of the FDA, asking the agency to take the pill mifepristone, which helps induce abortions, off the U.S. market. The senators want the pill declared an “imminent hazard to public health.”
by Marge Berer
26 August 2020
Telemedicine for abortion care is the use of communications technology to arrange an abortion in a clinical setting or self-managed by the woman at home with medical abortion pills and for follow-up after the abortion. For International Safe Abortion Day, 28 September 2020, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the International Campaign for Women’s Right to Safe Abortion (ICWRSA) is promoting the use of telemedicine to arrange and follow-up an abortion and to support women’s right to have an abortion at home in the first trimester of pregnancy with medical abortion pills if she so chooses.
This discussion paper provides a history of how the use of telemedicine
and self-managed abortion with abortion pills at home have developed.
Initially, in Brazil in the 1980s, women shared information about the use of
misoprostol informally. Then, feminist-run safe abortion information hotlines
were set up, starting in 2005, to provide women with the information they need
(and in some cases provide the pills) to have an abortion at home. There are
currently one or more such hotlines in at least 26 countries in all world
regions. More recently, health professionals began to use what is now called
telemedicine (or telehealth) for this same purpose. This paper is about telemedicine
and the conditions that make self-managed abortion safe, and gives examples of
abortion services that put telemedicine and self-managed abortion together. It
also covers the role pharmacies can and are playing in support of these