Back in early December 2021, you may have heard some rumblings celebrating that the FDA had changed some of its draconian and scientifically unsupported regulations around medication abortion. Medication abortion, a safe and legal method of first-trimester abortion, accounted for 54% of US abortions in 2020 but has been subject to decades of politically-motivated FDA regulations that placed strict and unnecessary controls on it to limit access. In late 2021, amidst the most hostile environment to abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, some of these limits were lifted. However, the news stories reporting on the updates didn't exactly make it clear which problems the changes would solve and which they wouldn't.
As the Supreme Court is poised in June 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, and states are leveling increasingly hostile attacks towards abortion rights in the meantime, any expansion of access is a good thing, and this FDA update is definitely a good thing - but is not a panacea.
To explain the implications of the update, we are rejoined on the podcast by Elisa Wells, Co-Director of Plan C Pills, a website and organization that provides information about how to access abortion pills in all 50 US states.
Elisa explains why this is a win and for whom it's a win for abortion access - but also for whom these changes make no difference at all. As the potential end of Roe nears, it's more important now than ever that we understand - and work to lift - the obstacles to abortion access that millions of Americans of reproductive age face.
[Please note that this episode was recorded on January 14, 2022. Additional states have passed incredibly strict abortion bans since then, including Idaho, Florida, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.]
- Transcript of episode (AI-generated)
- Check out all the fun (and often easy!) ways that you can Get Involved with Plan C Pills to take action to support self-managed abortion
- In 2020, medication abortion accounted for 54% of US abortions (Guttmacher Institute, 2022)
- States Want to Ban Abortions Beyond Their Borders. Here’s What Pro-Choice States Can Do. (New York Times, March 2022)
- A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine supports the safety of prescribing the abortion pill without requiring a pelvic exam or ultrasound.
- Additional podcast that may be of interest from Reveal: "A Strike At the Heart of Roe." Across the country, conservative foes of abortion rights have pushed “heartbeat bills” that would ban abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. Journalist Amy Littlefield and a team of law and journalism students from UC Berkeley investigate how this law went from being dismissed as a fringe idea, even by traditional right-to-life groups, to getting enforced in Texas.
Relevant Femtastic Podcast Episodes:
- Lifting Restrictions on Medication Abortion (July 2021)
- Podcast featuring Plan C Pills and Elisa Wells (Sept 2021): What's Up with the TX Abortion Ban and How Can People All Over the US Access Abortion Pills Online?
- A Clinic Making Mail-Order Abortion a Reality (Nov 2021)