Several states have advanced restrictions on medication abortion care in an effort to further attack abortion access and reproductive freedom. Medication abortion accounts for nearly 40% of abortion care in the U.S.—which has been even more important to people who are pregnant during COVID-19—and some state legislatures are trying to further push this critical care out of reach. Below is some useful background information to aid in covering the issue of medication abortion.
What is medication abortion?
Medication abortion has long been deemed a safe and effective method for ending an early pregnancy. It has been approved by the FDA for use for more than 20 years and involves taking two different prescribed medications: a pill called mifepristone is taken first and the second pill, misoprostol, is taken 24-48 hours later.
Research shows that medication abortion can safely and effectively be prescribed for use via telemedicine. This access is important for pregnant people who face barriers to receiving health care—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic—including the need to travel, securing child care, long wait times for an appointment, and the costs that result from these obstacles to care. This allows people who are pregnant to have medication abortion prescribed by their trusted healthcare providers and obtain the medication in the way that makes the most sense for them, whether that is at a health center, their local pharmacy, or delivered to their home.
Other terms to know and avoid:
✖ In coverage of medication abortion, the term “abortion reversal” often comes up, although there is no data to support it. There is an agreement among medical experts that “abortion reversal” has no basis in medical science. Legislation forcing doctors to provide their patients with these deceptive and unproven claims are an attempt by anti-choice politicians to interfere with patient care. If you would like to learn more about this, here is a helpful resource from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
✖ The term “chemical abortion” is often used by anti-choice activists to make abortion sound like a dangerous procedure, when abortion care, including medication abortion care, has a safety record of more than 99%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The accurate term (and the one used by mainstream medical experts) is “medication abortion” or “medication abortion care.”
✖ The phrase “DIY abortion” is also frequently used by the anti-choice movement to provocatively describe a pregnant person ending their own pregnancy, often via medication abortion care. This inflammatory term trivializes and misrepresents decisions that people make thoughtfully. Repeating this charged language further contributes to a climate where people are too often criminalized for pregnancy outcomes. Medication abortion is a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy with oversight and guidance from a medical provider, using a two-step medication regimen. When describing someone using medication to end their pregnancy, the accurate term is “medication abortion.”
As you continue your coverage of these efforts to restrict access to medication abortion care, NARAL is happy to serve as a resource. We also recommend this fact-sheet from the EMAA Project, which details access to medication abortion care during COVID-19.
For additional resources on covering abortion and reproductive freedom, you can visit tellthewholestorynow.com.