Medication Abortion Is Not Enough to Solve the Abortion Access Crisis

The most significant difference between our pre- and post-graduation programs is the fact that they are different.RoePast and presentRoeThe availability of medication abortion is a reality. Patients can now receive care with the help of abortion pills entirely via telemedicine. They also allow women to end their pregnancies safely without any medical assistance. This is known as self-managed abortion.

Thanks to abortion pills, abortions now classified as “illegal” can be medically safe. This is an important fact. stubborn ubiquity as a protest symbolGone are the days when coat hangers were commonplace. As long as those who can become pregnant are aware of the safety and efficacy and proper use of abortion pills, that is.

Since the Supreme Court’s overturn, many activists and organizations have worked tirelessly to spread the word on abortion pills. Roe v. WadeSocial media platforms have been saturated with posts about pills that can be used to allow safe abortions anytime, anywhere. Some abortion providers have expanded their telemedicine offerings and telemedicine services such as Aid Access Choix,They now offer advance supply of abortion pills. This means that you can order them in advance to have on-hand just in case.

Sharing this information is undoubtedly critical — in a 2019 survey, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only 1 in 5 American adultsNever had I heard of medication abortion. This is a reason why the number of abortion-related deaths has increased since then. continued to grow in popularityOver half of all abortions are now performed in this country. Still, there’s an information gap, and overcoming it could help many more people have safe abortions, regardless of where they live. Not everyone can, or wants, to have a medication-abortion. Advocates worry that the heavy focus on medication abortion by large organizations and small grassroots groups is leaving these people behind.

One group being left out: people who’ve had, or will need, abortions later in pregnancy. Although medication abortion is legal, safe and effectiveIt is not FDA-approved beyond the first trimester and is rarely prescribed. beyond 11 or 12 weeks in the U.S.The vast majority of people who require abortions after that point must have the procedure in a clinic.rarely) in a hospital. Although research shows self-managed abortions can be effective, also be safe and effective in the second trimester, there is a higher likelihood that people who self-manage abortions at this point may need follow-up medical care — a reality that could open abortion seekers, and the people who help them, to legal risk.

“It really is like threading a needle,” Jenn Chalifoux-Gene told Truthout. Chalifoux Genee had an abortive procedure in 2010 after discovering that they were pregnant during treatment for an eating disorder. That — plus the fact that they were on the birth control pill — meant that neither Chalifoux-Gene nor the medical professionals caring for them suspected they might be pregnant until well into the second trimester. “I want desperately to acknowledge how important medication abortion is and how helpful it can be for people to be able to self-manage their own abortions. That’s empowering,” Chalifoux-Gene said. “But then sometimes, I see abortion funds that I think are really cool sharing things that seem to imply that if we could just expand access to medication abortion, we would be good. I feel hurt that I see a kind denial of the fact later abortion patients exist, and require different procedures. It’s later abortion stigma or erasure, even within the movement.”

Later discovery of pregnancyIt is common for people to need later abortions. The Turnaway Study is a long-term project that was conducted by researchers. Advancing New Standards in Reproductive HealthPeople who were denied abortions were compared to people who had them, more than 1 in 5 second-trimester abortion patientsThey discovered they were pregnant after just 20 weeks. Those who had abortions at or after 20 weeksThey discovered that they were pregnant at 12 weeks, compared with five weeks for first-trimester patients. The study also revealed that abortions performed after 20 weeks were more common than those who had them. These barriers are growing more acute now that most or all abortions are outlawed in the United States. at least 15 statesThe number of abortions after the first trimester is expected to rise.

“We know that restrictions push abortions later. So now that the choices made by our courts and our government will be pushing many abortions later, it feels a little irresponsible to me to act like if we could just expand access to the pills, and if we could just like decriminalize them, then we solve the problem,” said Chalifoux-Gene.

Now it is PossibleLater abortion patients can have medication abortions. Chalifoux Gene states that medication abortion is a more complicated and painful process than one should be forced to undergo. “I’m honestly really grateful that I wound up having an in-hospital abortion procedure instead of doing medication abortion, because with medication it takes a lot longer,” they said. “And when I think about how I was able to go to a hospital, go to sleep, and wake up not pregnant anymore, I’m so grateful. I think having a medication abortion would have been traumatic for me.”

Even in the first trimester, medication abortion can cause severe cramping and bleeding for several hours. with lighter bleeding that can continue for several weeks. In-clinic abortions are, however, much faster and last only about a half hour. about five minutesIn the first trimester. To confirm that a medication-abortion was successful, a home pregnancy test must be performed. This is a painful prospect for anyone in a state that bans abortion. “Four weeks after the medication abortion, 20 percent of people will still have a false-positive urine pregnancy test, and 10 percent at five weeks. That’s a lot,” Ariella Messing, a Ph.D. candidate in bioethics and health policy at Johns Hopkins University and the founder and operations director of Online Abortion Resource Squad (OARS)?, told Truthout.

OARS is used an accompaniment model, a community-based approach to supporting abortion seekers by providing information and peer support. Their volunteers ensure that Reddit posts on abortion receive accurate answers and provide quality information and resources. Messing stated that Reddit is an important forum for abortion seekers to share their personal experiences and offer support. “Rarely can I think of an example of somebody who posts on Reddit saying, ‘I chose a procedure and I wish I had chosen medication.’ But I have seen the reverse a million times, like, ‘I came here thinking I was going to do medication, but then I read all these stories and I got convinced to do a procedure, and I’m so glad I did,’” she said.

None of this is to demonize medication abortion — many people have a strong preference for being able to complete their abortion in the privacy of their own homes. The problem is the inability to choose between medication and an abortive procedure. “People are losing the choice, and not just because of the legal status of abortion, but also just because of pricing. Because some of these telemedicine providers can do medication abortion for $150, whereas going to a clinic costs three or four times as much,” said Messing.

Medication abortion is often portrayed as the private option. Certainly, in some cases this is true — but not always. “The privacy issue I think is really overlooked. Some people prefer medication abortion through telemedicine or something, because they can’t go to a clinic. They cannot get there without somebody finding out that they’re pregnant, so the safest option is for them to fake a miscarriage,” said Messing. “But some people really need to go to a clinic for the same reason. They need privacy in the clinic. They must be able to walk in and out of the clinic not being pregnant. Or I’ve counseled people who are trying to do a medication abortion while homeless. Those people deserve to have other options.”

There are various other medical reasons why someone may not be able to have a medication abortion, and it’s not an ideal option for a person who’s gotten pregnant while using an IUD (it’s recommended to have the IUD removed first). Messing also mentioned that many clinics offer the option to have an IUD placed simultaneously with an abortion procedure. This is a great option for patients who are experiencing difficulties. reproductive coercion.

Messing stated that advocates and abortion providers need to expand their messaging to reach all possible medication abortion experiences. “I think in general people make it seem like medication abortion is no big deal, that it’s just like a period for most people. And that’s not true. It’s often a lot more painful, and it’s a really prolonged process,” she said. “Even clinics that provide medication abortion, I don’t think many of them prepare people for the wide range of experiences that they could have. So we get questions on Reddit all the time, like, ‘I’m not bleeding enough, I’m not in pain, is something wrong?’ And then we get the opposite, where people are worried they’re bleeding too heavily when what they’re experiencing is normal. We need to broaden those expectations and explain the range of what is okay and what is not.”

Chalifoux Genee encourages anyone who wants to improve abortion access, to keep fighting for abortion access at every stage of pregnancy. “I think a lot of the disappointment and hurt that I feel when I see well-meaning overreliance on medication abortion in the movement is coming from wanting to make sure that the way that we respond to this crisis is as expansive as possible and that we’re using this moment not to make compromises or grab whatever straws we can get, but to really demand everything,” they said. “Because the moves that we make and the way that we respond to this moment can change what our movement looks like in the future.”