Medication abortion the new front in the battle for reproductive health

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) — In the wake of what would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Biden administration announced this week that it would take executive action to help protect drug-induced abortions. It comes as some GOP lawmakers are pushing for a federal ban on all abortions.

“The right of every woman in every state of this country to make decisions about her own body is at stake,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Sunday, announcing President Biden’s two-point memorandum instructing his administration to “remove obstacles to access and recommendations”. actions to ensure that: doctors can legally prescribe, doctors can dispense and women can obtain safe and effective medication.

Medications such as Mifepristone, also known as RU-486, block the pregnancy hormone progesterone. It is the first pill taken in the two-drug abortion regimen. In combination with misoprostol – which goes by the brand name Cytotec – Mifepristone is used to terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks gestational age.

Prior to the FDA’s Jan. 3 decision that allowed patients to obtain a prescription abortion pill from drugstores, a licensed health care provider had to administer Mifepristone in person.

“Which meant a patient came into the office, saw me, got advice from their provider and had additional tests to confirm their pregnancy and they were candidates for the method. And then we would hand them their medication straight from the office,” explains Dr. Lauren MacAfee, an obstetrician at UVM Medical Center.

During the pandemic, federal regulators relaxed the restriction allowing clinicians to send the drugs to patients. This most recent rule change goes one step further. MacAfee says the decision will benefit people who live in rural areas or rely on telehealth. “Who can get an ultrasound done at, say, a local emergency department, then visit a telemedicine provider and not necessarily have to travel to get that medication,” she said.

National pharmacies such as Rite Aid, CVS and Walgreens have all announced their intent to complete the Mifepriston certification process in states without drug abortion bans such as Vermont, New Hampshire and New York. Kinney Drugs said in a statement that it is “in the process of carefully and thoughtfully evaluating the requirements for certifying our pharmacies to dispense Mifepristone under the FDA REMS program.”

But since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade seven months ago, abortion opponents are suing the FDA to remove Mifepristone from the market after more than two decades. Vice President Harris cites that 22 states have already refused to follow this new federal rule.

Drug-induced abortions accounted for 51% of all abortions in the country in 2020, according to the CDC. Both the FDA and CDC emphasize that it is scientifically proven and that Mifepristone is extremely safe and effective when used as directed. It is not available to purchase over the counter.

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Medication abortion the new front in the battle for reproductive health

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