The FDA just reinforced “abortion exceptionalism” in health care and added paternalistic busywork for pharmacists dispensing medication abortion.
By Renee Bracey Sherman, Dr. Daniel Grossman and Tracy Weitz
JANUARY 6, 2023
This week, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would allow mifepristone, the first pill taken in the two-drug medication abortion regimen, to be dispensed at retail pharmacies. The FDA’s decision is a welcome move that has garnered headlines, but the fine print contains significant red tape that will continue to serve as a barrier for people already struggling to access medical care.
Because of “abortion exceptionalism” allowing abortion care (and miscarriage management) to be treated differently from other health care, medication abortion has always been more regulated than it should be. When the FDA approved the drug in 2000, it did so under a little-known bureaucratic system known as the Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS). Drugs under REMS usually carry significant side effects or are highly addictive, neither of which is true for mifepristone. Under these restrictions, clinicians who provide medication abortion must register with the FDA and then dispense mifepristone directly to the patient. As Renee and Dr. Grossman wrote last year, this requirement has made it impossible for mifepristone to be available over the counter, or at the very least to be dispensed without unnecessary certifications, despite the fact that it’s safer than Tylenol.
Pro-choice activists are focusing on expanding abortion access, voter registration and education, and shield laws for providers
Wed 7 Dec 2022
Renee Bracey Sherman answers the phone and apologizes – is it OK if we speak while she drives? Like many abortion advocates, she tends to keep a packed schedule and talk at lightning speed – the next initiative, the next law, the next policy on the horizon. Ask advocates how they felt in June after the Dobbs decision sharply curtailed reproductive rights across the US, or in November after wins in the midterm elections signaled strong public support for abortion, and they’ll answer immediately: We knew this was coming; but the fight’s not over.
Garnet Henderson, Truthout
November 26, 2022
In 2020, a federal judge ruled that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must suspend its requirement that patients pick up mifepristone, one of the pills used in medication abortion, in person. After some back-and-forth under the Trump administration, the FDA permanently repealed the rule, which had long been decried by medical experts as unnecessary, in 2021.
This opened the door for providers to send abortion pills by mail in all but the 19 states that outlaw provision of abortion via telemedicine. (Many of those same states now ban abortion entirely.) This regulation change, along with increased popular interest in abortion access following Roe’s overturn, has led to a proliferation of telemedicine companies offering abortion pills. Some of these companies are run by people with prior experience in abortion care and connections in the reproductive health, rights and justice movements; others are not. Regardless, some abortion access advocates are raising concerns about whether the rise of for-profit telemedicine companies is the best way to serve abortion seekers.
Most people don’t know what early pregnancy actually looks like. That complicates abortion discussions.
By LUX ALPTRAUM
Nov 3, 2022
When Jessica Valenti first decided to share photos of what an early pregnancy looks like on TikTok, she knew that the images would cause a stir. Since the official fall of Roe v. Wade, Valenti has become a devoted abortion rights commentator, offering daily updates about the current state of abortion rights through her newsletter, Abortion Every Day. Over the course of the project, Valenti has attracted her fair share of trolls and angry commentary — but none of it prepared her for the response to her TikTok on early pregnancy on October 19th.
She expected that she’d get some right-wing pushback — maybe some anti-abortion types who’d insist that if you zoomed in on the photos of amorphous pregnancy tissue, you’d actually get a glimpse of a tiny person. What she did not expect was how many people — many identifying as pro-choice — would flood her comments insisting that the photos she’d shared were fake, that they’d been digitally altered to look less human, and that she was spreading misinformation that would only hurt groups that support abortion rights.
Fri October 28, 2022
More than four months after the Supreme
Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health overturned Roe v. Wade,
undoing nearly five decades of federally-guaranteed legal abortion access,
Americans across the country are still wrestling with the consequences of the
How are Americans learning to live in this widely anticipated, but still-unprecedented, reality? CNN Opinion asked experts to share their thoughts on what a post-Roe America means – for the midterm elections and far beyond them.
Apps and data matter — but people are often a weaker link
By LUX ALPTRAUM
Oct 15, 2022
In the years before Roe v. Wade, an anonymous group of Chicago-area women known only as The Janes came together to provide safe, clandestine abortions to pregnant people in need. Over the course of several years, the group provided over 11,000 abortions. When they were finally busted by the police in 1972, it wasn’t because of police surveillance or the group’s anti-war activism or even their willingness to provide abortions to the pregnant family members of police officers. It was a family member of a Jane patient who tipped off the police.
“Some nosey bitch tried to snitch on someone who needed an abortion,” says Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of the abortion storytelling organization We Testify.
BY DAN SCHWERIN
October 1, 2022
“We’re pregnant!” My wife, YJ, and I could barely believe it. It was 2018 and we had just started trying, after years of putting it off. Many of our friends had struggled to get pregnant, and we were in our late 30s, so I had prepared myself for a long, difficult process. Yet here we were, looking at a little pink line on the at-home test, the rest of our lives suddenly rushing toward us whether we were ready or not. I was thrilled – I had always wanted to be a dad. YJ was more ambivalent, nervous about giving up her independence and taking on the responsibilities of parenthood. My mother, on the other end of the phone, was over the moon. As she never tired of reminding us, she had been waiting – and waiting – to be a grandmother.
“This is not a time for speeches and hoping people will vote in November.”
By Li Zhouli
Jun 27, 2022
This past weekend, more than 30 Democratic senators had a message for President Joe Biden: They want him to do more to protect abortion rights, and they want him to do it now.
“There is no time to waste,” they said in the letter, which was led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and sent one day after the Supreme Court announced its decision to officially roll back Roe v. Wade. “You have the power to fight back and lead a national response to this devastating decision.”
With Roe on the brink, more experts are talking about advance provision of mifepristone and misoprostol.
By Rachel M. Cohen
Jun 22, 2022
Medication abortion, or taking a combination of the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, is an increasingly common method for ending pregnancies in the United States. Reasons vary and overlap: Some women lack access to in-person abortion clinics; others prefer to end pregnancies in the comfort of their own home. Others seek out the pills because they cost far less than surgical abortion.
With more in-person clinics shuttering and a Supreme Court that’s threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade, a small but growing number of reproductive experts have been encouraging discussion of an idea called “advance provision” — or, more colloquially, stocking up on abortion pills in case one needs them later.
“You promised that you would rule as a pro-choice president, and you need to do it,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify.
Scott Bixby, White House Reporter
Jun. 12, 2022
President Joe Biden has repeatedly declared his support for a woman’s right to have an abortion, albeit without any concrete plans to protect that right. But as the Supreme Court’s near-certain overturning of Roe v. Wade draws closer, abortion-rights advocates want him to put up or shut up.
“Joe Biden is missing in action right now. This is a crisis, and he’s nowhere to be found, he’s not giving us a plan,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify, an organization that represents those who have had abortions. “We showed up in November 2020 and handed you the White House, the House, and the Senate. Do your fucking job that you were elected to do.”