OCTOBER 20, 2020
Katie realized she was pregnant during the first week of April 2020. She decided pretty quickly that she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. She already had two kids, and she’d just been diagnosed with high blood pressure. The condition was still uncontrolled, which made her pregnancy high-risk. But it was just weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. She was in full lockdown, and she wasn’t sure if she could get an abortion.
"I was Googling abortions," she tells Refinery29. "My biggest thing was not wanting to actually go to a place." Besides being afraid of catching the virus, the nearest clinic to Katie was six hours away from her home in New Mexico, and she wasn’t sure how she’d find the time to get there.
After 20 years in the U.S., medication abortion is finally widely accessible through telehealth. But a looming Supreme Court ruling could change all that.
BY RUTH READER
In April of this year, when some of Minnesota’s already few abortion clinics started to close because of the pandemic, a new organization popped up with a novel idea: It would bring abortion services to Minnesotans using a mobile clinic. Called Just The Pill, its goal was to connect the state’s most rural corners with medication abortion care, a two-pill regimen that can end a pregnancy.
In the past, it’s been hard for sexual health groups to get medication abortion to people in remote areas. The Food and Drug Administration restricts one of the medications, mifepristone, in several ways. Patients must take the pill at a clinic, for example. On top of that, states have their own rules that can further encumber access. However, the medical data overwhelmingly shows the abortion pill is safe, even to take at home alone. Health experts say politics—not data—are informing these rules.
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 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.
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.”
Self-Managed Abortions May Be More Difficult to Access Right Now—Here’s What You Need to Know
With supply chain disruptions in India due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, medication abortion may be less accessible—an issue compounded by anti-choice state officials trying to ban the procedure and the FDA.
Apr 14, 2020
If you visit aidaccess.org in search of the abortion pill right now, you won’t be able to find what they’re looking for. Aid Access, a website that offers medication abortion pills by mail for people in the United States seeking to self-manage their abortion, has hit a snag in its supply chain, thanks to a halt in trade out of India because of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Because of [COVID-19] the government of India have decided to close all international airports to prevent corona virus outbreak and therefor [sic] the pharmacy in India cannot send the medicines until further notice,” reads a disclosure on the Aid Access website’s consultation page.
Coronavirus Is Endangering Abortion Access. Telemedicine Could Solve it.
Almost 40% of abortions take place in the privacy of one's home. Why must pregnant women to go to the clinic at all?
By Melissa Jeltsen, HuffPost US
Imagine you take a cruise in late February. When you get back to the U.S., you start to self-quarantine out of concern that you were exposed to coronavirus on the ship. Then you find out you are pregnant. You do not want to be. What do you do?
If you were in Canada, you could get a doctor to prescribe you what is colloquially known as the “abortion pill,” which you could pick up from your local pharmacy. Using medication abortion, women end their pregnancies by taking a combination of two drugs, usually spaced 24 hours apart, which essentially cause a miscarriage.
Everything You Need to Know About the Abortion Pill
By Rose Minutaglio
Nov 22, 2019
For Nicole, taking the abortion pill was like getting through "an extremely painful poop." It hurt, a lot, and then it was done. She was bartending at the time, lightyears away from thinking about motherhood, and decided on medication abortion. At $585, it was cheaper than a surgical abortion. Plus, Nicole wanted do it in the privacy of her own home. Two pills, four days, and several pairs of bloody underwear later ("it was basically like an extra heavy period for a week," she says), she went back to work at the bar.
Medication abortion or the "abortion pill" is a legal way to end a pregnancy—one that women like Nicole increasingly prefer over surgical abortion for a variety of reasons. It now accounts for more than one-third of all clinic abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.