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Last week, on March 26, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC (PPMW) joined the ACLU and other partner organizations at the steps of the Supreme Court to rally in support of mifepristone, a safe and effective abortion medication that has held FDA approval for over 20 years. 

Inside the court, justices heard arguments in the politically driven case to roll back FDA approval of the drug at the expense of the millions of Americans who rely on it. But just outside the court, thousands of advocates stood firm in defense of medication abortion as essential medical care. 

Powerful speakers took to the podium throughout the morning, from Planned Parenthood President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson to New York Attorney General Leticia James. Among the featured speakers were PPMW and PPFA abortion storyteller Brittany House (honored by PPMW for her advocacy work last year) and Dr. Divya Shenoy, PPMW’s director of primary care, who volunteered her voice as a DC-based abortion provider.

A patient shares her story

Brittany House shares her medication abortion story in front of the Supreme Court building

House spoke early in the rally, sharing her personal experience with medication abortion. When she was 21 years old, House became pregnant. At the time, she had just graduated from Howard University and was in a relationship she felt had no future. She didn’t want to continue the pregnancy and she reached out to PPMW as a compassionate abortion care provider. 

At a PPMW health center, House found hope in the form of a medication abortion (using mifepristone and misoprostol), which allowed her to take her health and future into her own hands. She shared, “Mife and miso provided me with greater autonomy to have my abortion.” 

While House’s willingness to offer a glimpse into her private life made her remarks moving and powerful, she also noted that sharing such personal stories shouldn’t be necessary in the first place. “This is something I shouldn’t have to reveal to strangers or to politicians for my choice to be respected,” said House. She added, “an abortion is supposed to be between a patient and their provider.”

An abortion provider's perspective

Dr. Divya Shenoy addresses the crowd, offering provider insight on the threat against medication abortion

Dr. Shenoy spoke both as a proud abortion provider and as a mother. “I just gave birth to a beautiful daughter four weeks ago,” she shared, “and I haven’t slept much since then, but I knew that this event was something I could not miss. I’m volunteering my voice today for my patients and for my daughter’s future.” 

Dr. Shenoy emphasized her concerns about political attacks against mifepristone that have no basis in medicine or science. She explained, “I am here because, as a physician, I know that mifepristone is safe and effective. Period. This is true whether a patient accesses this medication in a health center or uses telemedicine to access it from the comfort and privacy of their home. It is such a reliable and safe medication that 63% of patients who accessed abortion in 2023 opted for medication abortion.”

She also pointed out that banning medication abortion would particularly harm people from marginalized groups, adding yet another barrier to accessing medical care. She noted, “Changes like the ones proposed would directly harm patients and exacerbate health disparities already faced by people with low incomes; young people; and Black, Latino, and Indigenous people.”

Ultimately, said Dr. Shenoy, “Our freedom to make decisions about our own bodies, including whether and when to pursue a pregnancy, is essential. Abortion care is health care, and medication abortion is a central part of providing comprehensive primary care.” 

Read more about the rally as well as Dr. Shenoy and Brittany House’s remarks in The Washington Post and The Guardian. As the American public awaits the Supreme Court’s ruling, you can help ensure abortion access for those in need by supporting PPMW’s Abortion Access Fund.

Tags: Rally, Supreme Court, medication abortion, mifepristone

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