Mifepristone: Everything You Need To Know About the Controversial Abortion Pill
The United States seems to be gradually becoming ground zero for reproductive rights. After the dystopian attack on Roe v. Wade, abortion pills are the most common and easily accessible method of terminating a pregnancy in the country.
As expected, abortion pills are a new front in the anti-abortion crusade.
Mifepristone is the first of two pills the FDA recommends to terminate a pregnancy. It is a tablet that blocks the hormone progesterone, which is essential for continuing a pregnancy.
Unlike misoprostol, which empties the uterus, mifepristone terminates the pregnancy.
Scientists developed the drug in 1980, and countries like France began to use it in 1987. The United States approved it for use up to seven weeks gestation in September 2000.
Following the overruling of Roe v. Wade, mifepristone has become the safest and most accessible route for pregnancy termination.
In fact, U.S. studies claim that the medication is approximately 95% effective in terminating a pregnancy. It requires additional medical follow-up less than 1% of the time.
A solution at risk
Although clandestine abortion is one of the greatest threats to women, anti-abortion activists have now turned their attention to mifepristone.
Under the misguided argument that the drug is “risky and ineffective,” states like Texas could successfully remove the drug from shelves across the country.
As the BBC explained, the FDA expanded the drug’s availability in April 2021, and it said it would lift the in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone during the Covid-19 pandemic. In December of last year, the FDA permanently lifted that requirement, meaning physicians could mail the drug.
They expanded access this year thanks to another FDA change, which allowed retail pharmacies to dispense the drug. Previously, only healthcare professionals could administer the medication.
Abortion advocates applauded the move, saying it was a solution to the abortion bans that swept the country after the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
But since February, at least 20 Republican attorneys general signed letters threatening several of the nation’s leading pharmacies with legal action if they dispensed mifepristone in their state.
Now, in Texas, the lawsuit filed by anti-abortionists could end in an injunction ordering the FDA to withdraw its approval.
The risk is even higher for Latinas
As is often the case, lack of access to medical resources doubly affects communities of color.
In the case of abortion, state abortion bans and restrictions affect Latinas the most.
As NBC explained in a November 2022 article, more than 4 in 10 Latinas of reproductive age live in the nearly two dozen states where authorities are working to make abortion inaccessible.
A new analysis by the National Partnership for Women & Families and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, shared for the first time with NBC News, revealed that nearly 6.5 million Latinas (42% of all Latinas ages 15-49) live in 26 states that have banned or are likely to ban abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“This community is really facing the brunt of the overturn of Roe v. Wade,” a co-author of the analysis, Candace Gibson, the director of government relations at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, said in an interview.
Three-quarters of Latinas living in states with abortion bans or restrictions are in Texas, Florida, and Arizona.
Texas, where lawmakers banned abortion, is home to 2.9 million Latinas of reproductive age.
Florida and Arizona, where laws restrict abortion, are home to 1.4 million and 587,600 Latinas of reproductive age, respectively.
The overturning of Roe opened the door for 13 states, mainly in the South and Midwest, to implement abortion bans.
So is mifepristone a safe solution for Latinas?
Despite the ideological divide that abortion often stirs in our community, termination of pregnancy could save many lives.
“Anyone who is capable of getting pregnant at some point may need abortion care,” said Shaina Goodman, the director for reproductive health and rights at the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Nearly 3.1 million Latinas affected by current and future abortion bans in the 26 states are already mothers. Almost 28% of them have children under the age of 3.
The National Partnership for Women & Families and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice analysis found that nearly 3 million Latinas in the 26 states where efforts are underway to make abortion inaccessible were “economically insecure” or living in families below 200% of the federal poverty line.
Beyond these numbers, the self-determination of our bodies is a non-transferable right.
And misoprostol is key
The drug is, in fact, safer than other common medications like penicillin, Tylenol, and Viagra — but that’s something no one wants to tell you.
As explained by Planned Parenthood, medication abortion has a solid safety record: serious complications occur in less than ⅓ of 1% of cases, whether the person gets their abortion pills in person at a doctor’s office or through a virtual appointment.
Respected medical organizations such as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ipas, and the World Health Organization, approve and recommend Misoprostol.
Recommendations before using misoprostol
As with everything in life, this is not a decision to be taken lightly. Before deciding that misoprostol is the solution for your situation, consult your physician or pharmacist.
Your doctor must follow up at least twice to complete treatment and important tests. In fact, many doctors recommend having an ultrasound beforehand to ensure the pregnancy is not outside the uterus (ectopic).
Take mifepristone by mouth as directed by your doctor, usually in a single dose. After taking mifepristone, your doctor should instruct you to wait 24 to 48 hours before taking another medication (misoprostol) by mouth as a single dose.
The medications may not work as well if you take misoprostol sooner than 24 hours after taking mifepristone or later than 48 hours after taking mifepristone.
Remember to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and always have someone you trust by your side.