The U.S. Supreme Court has weighed in on the legal battle over an abortion pill that accounts for more than half of abortions in the United States, upholding restrictions imposed by an appeals court.
Here is background information on the drug, mifepristone, and its uses:
– How widespread is the use of abortion pills? –
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the pill was responsible for more than half — 53 percent — of the 930,160 abortions documented in 2020 by the United States’ Reproductive Health Research and Policy Organization.
That was an increase from 17 percent in 2008 and 39 percent in 2017.
Although the number of so-called drug-induced abortions has risen dramatically in the United States in recent years, it is still not as common as in several European countries.
In France, for example, medical abortions represented 70 percent of the total number of abortions in 2020.
– How does it work? –
The abortion pill is different from the “morning after” pill, which a woman takes after sexual intercourse to prevent getting pregnant.
The abortion pill is taken to induce an abortion as soon as a woman confirms she is pregnant.
In fact, the process involves more than one pill. The first, mifepristone, also known as RU 486, prevents a pregnancy from progressing normally by blocking the production of the hormone progesterone.
Another drug, misoprostol, is taken up to 48 hours later and causes cramping, bleeding, and uterine emptying.
Abortion pills can be used at home and a medical setting is not required.
– When was the abortion pill approved? –
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light to mifepristone and misoprostol in 2000 for use up to seven weeks of pregnancy.
It was later approved for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy, after which a woman would have to have an abortion by other means, such as vacuum aspiration.
An anti-abortion group has challenged the FDA’s approval of mifepristone in federal court in Texas.
The average cost of a medication abortion at Planned Parenthood is $580, but it can be as high as $800.
– Is it safe and effective? –
The use of the abortion pill during the specified period is considered safe and effective by medical experts.
According to studies, pregnancies are successfully terminated in more than 95 percent of cases when the pill is used.
Serious complications – excessive bleeding, fever, infection or allergic reaction – requiring a medical consultation are rare.
The abortion pill does not work in ectopic pregnancies, which make up about two percent of all pregnancies, and where a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus.
– Where is the pill available? –
Since the June 2022 Supreme Court ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion, at least 13 U.S. states have banned most abortions, including those that require medication.
Despite the bans, a number of organizations have mobilized to provide abortion pills to women in states where abortion is restricted.
The magnitude of their efforts is difficult to estimate.
In the states where abortion is legal, the FDA recently eased restrictions around mifepristone, allowing it to be mailed with a prescription or sold directly in pharmacies just like any other drug.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)