During our monthly BOOB School, we were graced with an important lesson from Malinda Seymore concerning the contested abortion pill, Mifepristone. We learned what it is, how it works, why it’s important, and what is happening in Texas courts that may remove it from the market across the nation. Here are her slides:
What is Mifepristone and How Does It Work?
The abortion pill, also known as medication abortion, has become the most common method of abortion for first-trimester pregnancies. Recent data indicates that 54% of eligible individuals now choose medication abortion over a surgical procedure. The increasing restrictions on abortion access in many states have led more people to consider self-managing their abortions due to factors such as financial constraints preventing them from traveling for care. However, medication abortion provides a safe method for self-induced abortions.
Medication abortion involves taking two pills: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone is taken first and blocks the hormone progesterone, which is necessary for the pregnancy to develop. This initiates the process of emptying the uterus. Mifepristone can be taken either at home or in a healthcare provider’s office. The second medication, misoprostol, is taken within 24 to 48 hours after the first pill. It causes uterine cramping and cervical softening, leading to the expulsion of the pregnancy from the body.
Taking both medications induces a miscarriage-like process. While some individuals in the United States and around the world use misoprostol alone, the mifepristone-misoprostol regimen is considered more effective, with a success rate of approximately 95% if taken within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy. The misoprostol-alone regimen has a success rate of around 85%.
Symptoms and risks associated with medication abortion vary depending on the gestational age of the pregnancy. Patients typically experience bleeding and cramping, which can be more severe the further along they are in pregnancy. The process usually takes a couple of hours, and flu-like symptoms such as fevers, chills, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are normal. While the majority of patients have a successful abortion with the medication, approximately 5% may experience incomplete abortions, requiring a second dose of medication or a surgical procedure to remove any remaining pregnancy tissue.
Rare complications of medication abortion include severe bleeding that may require medical attention or a blood transfusion (less than 1% of patients), as well as the risk of infection (low risk). However, these risks are significantly lower compared to the risks associated with continuing a full-term pregnancy and delivery. It’s important for patients to have support and access to medical care during the process, as well as follow-up care to ensure their health and well-being.
Having an abortion, whether through medication or surgery, does not impact an individual’s future chances of having a healthy pregnancy or overall health unless a rare, serious complication occurs or is left untreated. It’s essential to consult with healthcare professionals, such as those at Planned Parenthood or other reproductive healthcare providers, to receive accurate information, guidance, and support throughout the process.
Mifepristone Case: A Crucial Battle for Reproductive Rights
The ongoing case surrounding mifepristone, a widely used abortion pill, holds significant implications for reproductive rights moving forward. At the heart of the case is the question of whether restrictions on mifepristone, ordered by a lower court, should be allowed to take effect while a legal challenge to the drug’s FDA approval is underway.
Mifepristone, approved by the FDA in 2000, is a medication used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, for medical abortions in early pregnancy. It has been a crucial component of the most common method of abortion in the United States. However, abortion opponents have sought to roll back FDA approval of mifepristone, leading to the current legal battle.
The outcome of this case could have wide-ranging consequences for women’s access to reproductive healthcare. If the restrictions are allowed to take effect, it could lead to limited access to mifepristone, potentially requiring higher dosages than recommended by the FDA and imposing other limitations on its use. This could create barriers and chaos for women who rely on the medication for safe and effective abortions.
The case also highlights the ongoing challenges and attacks on reproductive rights in the United States. It comes less than a year after the conservative majority of the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, allowing more than a dozen states to effectively ban abortion outright. The potential for further restrictions on mifepristone adds to the concerns about the erosion of reproductive rights and access to safe and legal abortion across the country.
The outcome of this case will not only impact the availability of mifepristone but may also set a precedent for future legal battles concerning reproductive healthcare. It underscores the importance of ongoing advocacy and the need to protect and expand access to reproductive rights and healthcare services. The decision by the Supreme Court in this case will shape the landscape of reproductive rights and have significant implications for women’s health and autonomy moving forward.
Navigating the Patchwork: The State of Abortion Laws Across America
As of mid-May 2023, the landscape of abortion laws and regulations across states in the United States varies significantly. In terms of legislative sessions, 23 state legislatures along with the District of Columbia have convened their regular sessions, while 25 state legislatures have adjourned their regular sessions. Additionally, two legislatures are in a special session.
Regarding abortion restrictions, the highlights show that there are several states with varying levels of bans and limitations. For instance, 13 states have implemented outright bans on abortion, while 44 states have some form of prohibition on abortions after a certain point in pregnancy. These restrictions range from bans at six weeks LMP in one state, to bans at 15, 18, 20, 22, and 24 weeks LMP in different states. Some bans are justified based on unscientific claims of fetal pain, while others are tied to the point of viability or the third trimester.
It’s important to note that the specific laws and regulations surrounding abortion can change over time as new legislation is proposed and enacted. Therefore, staying informed about the current legal landscape and developments in individual states is crucial to understanding the status of reproductive rights across the country.