The FDA approved the abortion pill 20 years ago. It’s time to make it available via telehealth

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.

Continued: https://www.statnews.com/2020/09/24/make-abortion-pill-available-via-telehealth/


USA – Abortion Regulation in the Age of COVID-19

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.
Continued: https://www.theregreview.org/2020/09/21/baker-abortion-regulation-covid-19/


Abortion by pill is becoming more widespread in America

Changes to medical technology will change the politics of the country’s original culture war

The Economist
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.

Continued: https://www.economist.com/united-states/2020/09/19/abortion-by-pill-is-becoming-more-widespread-in-america


Easing restrictions on abortion pill greatly improved access to care in Canada

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.

Continued: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/uobc-ero090920.php


USA – The Supreme Court is already considering another threat to abortion rights

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.

Continued: https://www.vox.com/2020/9/9/21426056/supreme-court-abortion-american-college-obstetricians-gynecologists-surgery-trump-john-roberts


USA – Ted Cruz and a Bunch of GOP Senators Are Trying to Ban the Abortion Pill

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.”

Continued: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kpap4/ted-cruz-and-a-bunch-of-gop-senators-are-trying-to-ban-the-abortion-pill


Telemedicine and self-managed abortion: a discussion paper

by Marge Berer
26 August 2020

Introduction
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
changes.

Continued: https://mailchi.mp/safeabortionwomensright/newsletter-26-aug-2020?e=372dd34034


South Africa – Self-managed abortions set to give women more autonomy

Abortion providers say self-managed abortions can give women more autonomy over their bodies, but access to this form of abortion remains limited in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji looks at exactly what self-managed abortion entails.

By Tiyese Jeranji for Spotlight
24 August 2020

Though abortion has been legal in South Africa since 1996, many abortions still take place outside of formal health settings.

At a conference on abortion and reproductive justice in Makhanda in 2018, the Department of Social Development said between 52% and 58% of the estimated 260,000 abortions that take place in South Africa every year are illegal. The Guttmacher Institute (a research and policy organisation), estimates that 50% of abortions in South Africa take place in settings not regulated by the health sector.

Continued: https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-08-24-self-managed-abortions-set-to-give-women-more-autonomy/


USA – COVID-19: An Opportunistic Attack on Reproductive Health

By: Alyssa Fisher
Aug 23, 2020

Entering her 50th year at Choices Women’s Medical Center, founder Merle Hoffman has witnessed a lot. Imagine launching a reproductive health center providing abortions two years before Roe v. Wade legalized it in 1973.

But it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, she says, that has been “one of the most, most challenging times that we’ve faced, I’ve faced.”

Continued: https://womensenews.org/2020/08/covid-19-an-opportunistic-attack-on-reproductive-health/


India – Why your nearby chemist doesn’t have abortion pills, and why he should stock them

A new study throws light on the availability
of prescription-based medical abortion drugs with chemists as a way to prevent
early abortion care costs among other benefits for women exercising their
choice of terminating pregnancy

Written by Jayashree Narayanan
Published: August 19, 2020

Marking 49 years of the inception of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP)
Act in 1971, a new study out on August 10, 2020 evaluated the availability of
Medical Abortion (MA) drugs in six Indian states to understand the awareness
levels and perceptions of the chemists stocking and selling MA pills.

Despite the passage of the MTP (Amendment) Bill in March 2020 that extended the
upper limit for permitting abortion to 24 weeks from 20 weeks, the
non-availability of MA drugs, which are approved for use up to nine weeks of
pregnancy in India, is seen to be “threatening” to women’s access to safe
abortion and proper reproductive healthcare.

Continued: https://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/health/medical-abortion-pills-mtp-act-chemist-study-6552205/