Safe Abortion Medication or Penalizing Abortions? The Confusing State of Reproductive Health in America: #NowWhat
ColumnAbortion access has been in the news quite a lot lately. If you appreciate a woman’s right to choose, part of this news will make you happy, and some of it will make you hurl.
Safe Abortion Medication
In late March, the Food and Drug Administration relaxed its guidelines for mifepristone, a common abortifacient. The F.D.A. change will allow a woman to take the drug further into her pregnancy and require fewer doctor visits to receive the drug.
The news is quite a welcome change for women seeking abortions in states such as Texas, North Dakota, Ohio, etc. — places where abortion rights advocates have been fighting laws that require doctors prescribing the medication to follow the previous, more stringent F.D.A. directions. The following, less strict guidelines are used in most states, The New York Times reports:
- Doctors can safely reduce the dosage to 200 milligrams from 600 milligrams.
- Decrease the number of visits a woman must make to a doctor to two from three.
- Extend the period when a woman can take the pill to 10 weeks of pregnancy from seven weeks.
Now, thanks to new medical evidence, it’s been proven that this commonly used lower dosage can cause fewer side effects, and that women can safely take the medication over a longer period of time.
“This is a major shift both in closing the gap between science and legal regulation and in enabling women to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy,” Suzanne B. Goldberg, a law professor at Columbia University who specializes in sexuality and gender law, says.
While the change is a welcome one for pro-choice supporters, it was rather unexpected. And although abortion opponents think the change was politically motivated, the F.D.A. maintains “its actions were based strictly on medical science,” the Times reports.
And then there’s Arizona…
Turns out that Arizona isn’t stoked about the F.D.A.’s update. In fact, the state dislikes the change so much so that its elected officials wrote legislation that rails against everything the F.D.A. just put into motion.
“Arizona governor Doug Ducey signed a bill into law Thursday that requires abortion clinics to follow an outdated procedure for use of a particular abortion pill—just one day after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated its policy on the pill,” Self reports. “Under the old guidelines, which Arizona’s new bill will keep in place, mifepristone must be used before a woman is seven weeks pregnant and must be taken at a higher dosage, which increases the risk a woman will suffer side effects.”
So, one step forward, two steps back?
Punishment for Abortion
Have we mentioned that Donald Trump isn’t a great political candidate for women? Because he, really, really, isn’t.
Just last week during an MSNBC Town Hall, Donald Trump said “there has to be some form of punishment” for a woman who has an abortion. Since saying that, Trump has changed his position amid backlash from pro-life and pro-choice supporters. Yeah, you read that right. He pissed everyone off.
So, just after the Town Hall, but before it aired, Trump’s political team issued his “new” stance on abortion:
“This issue is unclear and should be put back into the states for determination. Like Ronald Reagan, I am pro-life with exceptions, which I have outlined numerous times.”
Then an hour later, his team released yet another statement:
“If Congress were to pass legislation making abortion illegal and the federal courts upheld this legislation, or any state were permitted to ban abortion under state and federal law… The doctor or any other person performing this illegal act upon a woman would be held legally responsible, not the woman.”
And then Trump changed his stance two more times within a few hours. If you want to read the whole rundown, check out this Washington Post piece.
It’s obvious that Trump is just saying stuff he thinks will make his supporters happy, but even suggesting that a woman should face a punishment for having an abortion is terrible.
Abortion will continue to be a highly debated issue this election season. So, rest assured: We’ll continue reading all the depressing news and compiling it together for you to read.
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Image of abortion rally via Shutterstock, Joseph Sohm