PPFA President and CEO in new video: “Innovations like medication abortion bring us a step closer to a more equitable world.”
New York, NY — Today marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of mifepristone — one of two medications used in a medication abortion — which has expanded access to reproductive health care for more than four million people in the past two decades. In a new video marking the observance, Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson explains how medication abortion helps patients make their own medical decisions and outlines the barriers to access that remain.
Watch the video HERE.
Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
“For 20 years, mifepristone has been a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy. Unfortunately, laws that severely restrict or ban abortion — on top of medically unnecessary federal restrictions on this medication — have created insurmountable barriers for people trying to access abortion. These barriers disproportionately harm people with low incomes, people of color, and people in underserved areas who are already less likely to have timely access to high-quality health care. Every day, but especially during a public health crisis, people should be able to access mifepristone without putting their health and lives at further risk.
“While Planned Parenthood celebrates that mifepristone has helped so many people control their reproductive lives and futures, we remain committed to reducing barriers and advancing equitable access to medication abortion so that all people can get the care they need, when they need it."
Mifepristone has been safe and legal in the United States since the FDA approved the brand name Mifeprex 20 years ago. In April 2019, the FDA approved the first generic form of mifepristone, following a review of the evidence that medication abortion is a safe, effective way to end an early pregnancy — with a safety record of over 99%. A growing number of patients in the United States are choosing to end their pregnancy with medication abortion. In fact, in 2017, 39% of people seeking abortion obtained a medication abortion.
Despite its increased use and track record of safety and effectiveness, many people still struggle to access medication abortion. A number of states have laws regulating the provision of medication abortion; there are currently 18 states that effectively ban providing medication abortion via telemedicine, even though the evidence shows that these bans reduce rather than enhance patient safety.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to soon decide whether or not to grant the Trump administration’s request to to reinstate medically unnecessary barriers to medication abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) restrictions on mifepristone mandate that patients pick up the medication directly from a doctor’s office, hospital, or other health center — rather than from a pharmacy or by mail, as they can for other equally safe medications. While this REMS mandate has always been harmful, it is particularly harmful during the pandemic, when medical providers across the country are striving to provide care with reduced in-person contact to protect patients from unnecessary COVID-19 exposure.
Many Planned Parenthood health centers are proud to offer medication abortion to patients. Planned Parenthood health centers in 20 states offer medication abortion using telehealth services, which can reduce or eliminate the amount of time patients need to be at a health center. By providing medication abortion safely and effectively via telehealth, we can keep patients, providers, and health center staff safer during the pandemic and expand access to abortion for people, no matter where they live.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.