New York, NY ─ Women in the United States have been safely and legally using mifepristone and misoprostol for medication abortion for over a decade. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the FDA decision to approve medication abortion for use in the U.S. Studies continue to show that medication abortion is safe and effective.
“Today we know, just as we did 15 years ago, that mifepristone is a safe and effective method of obtaining an abortion,” Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Not only has it allowed women the option of a more private method of ending a pregnancy in a setting in which she feels most comfortable, it has also been crucial in expanding access.”
Since it was approved by the FDA on September 28,2000, the use of medication abortion has grown steadily. Today, one in three women chooses this method in order to end an early pregnancy. Medication abortion generally can be used up to 63 days — 9 weeks — after the first day of a woman's last period. In some locations, medication abortion is available up to 10 weeks. It is taken in three steps: first, a health care provider will give the patient a dose of mifepristone, taken in the form of a pill. Within two days of taking mifepristone, the patient will take a second medication — misoprostol, also in the form of a pill. Lastly, a health care provider checks that the abortion is complete with an ultrasound or blood test.
Planned Parenthood research was part of the trial that brought mifepristone to market. Planned Parenthood clinicians across the country continue to work every day to further enhance the provision of medication abortion.
“As pioneers in expanding access to medication abortion, we have seen firsthand the tremendous difference this method has made for women in rural and remote communities, and in health centers where we would otherwise not be able to provide abortion,” said McDonald-Mosley. “In fact, in 27% of Planned Parenthood health centers, medication abortion is the only abortion method offered.
“Unfortunately, opponents to legal abortion have passed laws to severely limit access to medication abortion. Planned Parenthood health centers see women every day who have been forced to delay care and travel hundreds of miles or even out-of-state to access abortion services. These restrictions have done nothing to make abortion safer — all they have done is make access to abortion more costly and less available to some of the women who need it most.”
The negative impact from restrictions on medication abortion, like other unnecessary abortion restrictions, often fall hardest on low-income women, rural women, women of color, undocumented women, and young women.
By expanding training and education about medication abortion — as well as the ability to provide this method — to a broader range of providers, such as family practice and internal medicine doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives, the availability of abortion could be greatly expanded into more communities.
Planned Parenthood works every day to make sure women receive the high-quality health care they need in a safe, respectful environment — including safe, legal abortion and in states where access is extremely limited.
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 approximately 700 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.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433
September 28, 2015