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 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: 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.”
Easy Access to Abortion Pill Vital During Pandemic, FDA Told
June 16, 2020
The FDA should relax restrictions on a medication used for abortion during the pandemic to prevent unnecessary travel, over 100 members of the House said Tuesday in a letter to the agency.
Under the current rules, a person who wants to use mifepristone to help terminate a pregnancy must get it directly from their health-care provider. Mifepristone—which blocks progesterone and stops a pregnancy from advancing—is typically used in combination with a second pill, misoprostol—which causes cramping and bleeding that empties the uterus—when used to terminate a pregnancy. Misoprostol is available at pharmacies with a prescription.
Medication Abortion and Telemedicine: Innovations and Barriers During the COVID-19 Emergency
Amrutha Ramaswamy, Gabriela Weigel, Laurie Sobel
Jun 08, 2020
State actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis have highlighted their divergent approaches to abortion access. Some states classified abortion as a non-essential service, effectively banning services, while others have clarified that abortion is an essential service. In a handful of states, some clinics have begun to offer medication abortions using telemedicine. This approach maintains access to abortion while social distancing, preserving personal protective equipment (PPE), and limiting in-person health care visits and risk of exposure.
In 2017, 39% of all abortions in the U.S. were medication abortions (also known as abortions induced by pills). These abortions are provided using two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol. While public knowledge about medication abortion is very low, even fewer people may be aware that telemedicine can aid in the provision of this service. Research shows that providing medication abortion by telemedicine is clinically feasible and safe, but COVID-19 has highlighted the impact of new and existing federal and state restrictions on providing abortions using this approach.
New Lawsuit Challenges FDA Restriction That Imposes Life-Threatening Risks on Patients Seeking Abortion and Miscarriage Care
ACLU, leading medical experts and reproductive justice advocates ask court to block FDA restriction that subjects patients and clinicians to needless COVID-19 risk
May 27, 2020
WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a coalition of medical experts led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The legal action challenges a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that subjects patients to unnecessary COVID-19 risks as a condition of receiving a medication used for early abortion and miscarriage treatment.
Feminist Multi-Front Battle to End FDA’s Abortion Pill Restriction
by Carrie N. Baker
Feminists have been fighting a defensive battle to protect abortion rights for years—but today some are taking the offense, pushing to expand abortion access by calling for the removal of FDA restriction on the abortion pill mifepristone.
Formerly known as RU-486, mifepristone ends pregnancy by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone, which sustains pregnancy. Used in combination with another drug—misoprostol, which causes contractions to complete an abortion—mifepristone is extremely safe.
No-Test Medication Abortion Increases Safety and Access During COVID-19
A new study proposes an innovative, no-test medication abortion protocol that would enable clinicians to safely administer medication abortion to patients without any preliminary tests or in-person encounters
by Carrie N. Baker
Imagine a world where women could access safe and supported abortion health care without ever leaving their homes. In this world, after a phone call or video conference with a health care professional, women could receive the abortion pill in the mail, which they could take safely in the privacy of their own homes under the supervision of a clinician.
No invasive, time-consuming pelvic exams or blood tests. No state-mandated ultrasounds or waiting periods requiring multiple visits. No walking past lines of screaming anti-abortion protesters. No driving long distances, having to find and pay for child care, or taking time off from work. No exposure to COVID-19.
Amid Covid-19, a Call for M.D.s to Mail the Abortion Pill
For decades, the consensus has been that F.D.A. regulations require that the abortion pill be obtained in a clinic. But that’s changing.
By Patrick Adams
May 12, 2020
Last fall, months before America’s first outbreak of the coronavirus, Francine Coeytaux and Elisa Wells, co-founders of the abortion rights advocacy group Plan C, were reaching out to doctors with a question they said was urgent:
“Would you be willing to mail the ‘abortion pills’ to women in their homes?”
Coronavirus crisis magnifies existing challenges to abortion access
May 07, 2020
In our recent book, Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America, David Cohen and I detail the considerable difficulties many people have in accessing abortion care. The relative scarcity of clinics means long travel for many; that abortion patients are disproportionately low-income women of color means hardship in paying for the procedure, particularly since the majority of states do not allow Medicaid funds to be used for abortion; the onerous waiting periods in many states often mean women have to stay overnight in a distant city, leading to the additional costs of lodging and more days of lost wages; confrontations with protestors at the clinic sites themselves can often be deeply upsetting. All these barriers have increased exponentially with the coming of COVID-19, and some new problems have been added as well.