Mifepristone, commonly known as “the abortion pill,” was approved for use by the FDA in 2000 and has since been safely used by millions of people to abort unwanted or unviable pregnancies on their own terms. Despite overwhelming evidence of the safety and efficacy of mifepristone, right-wing conservative groups are trying to ban the medication at a federal level—and they could be successful. Please excuse any typos in the following article as it was written in a blind rage.
Mifepristone is just one of two parts in most medicated abortions, and is often paired with another drug called misoprostol. Misoprostol was originally invented to prevent stomach ulcers but started being used as an abortifacient in 1980s Brazil to subvert restrictive abortion laws. During a medical abortion, the mifepristone is taken first and works by blocking progesterone. This signals the uterus to break down the uterine lining and disrupts the pregnancy. Then, the misoprostol can be taken up to 48 hours after the mifepristone, and tells the uterus to expel the uterine lining and any other tissue—kind of like a super heavy period or an early miscarriage.
This method of abortion is safe in pregnancies up to 12 weeks (though most effective before 11 weeks) and has been used over four million times since its FDA approval in 2000. On November 18th, 2022, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit in Amarillo, Texas on behalf of several anti-abortion organizations under the umbrella name “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” against the FDA demanding the courts require they “...do what the FDA was and is legally required to do: protect women and girls by holding unlawful, setting aside, and vacating the FDA’s actions to approve chemical abortion drugs and eviscerate crucial safeguards for those who undergo this dangerous drug regimen.”
Essentially, they want to force the FDA to revoke their approval of mifepristone which would mean a nationwide ban on the medication.
First of all, using the term “chemical abortion drugs” to refer to mifepristone is like calling coffee an “addictive acidic stimulant”—it’s technically accurate, but you sound like an idiot pretending to be smart. Second of all, the “dangerous drug regimen” they are referring to, aka medical abortion using mifepristone and misoprostol, has a safety record of over 99% and an efficacy rate of 95-99%. It is also significantly safer than both pregnancy and childbirth, as well as having a lower mortality rate than Viagra, according to the FDA, so that speaks for itself. The lawsuit also argues that the FDA haphazardly approved mifepristone for personal and political reasons, which is ironic coming from a group trying to ban mifepristone for personal and political reasons.
As ridiculous and baseless as the claims in the lawsuit are, it is still terrifyingly possible that the judge will rule in favor of the right-wing, conservative, anti-abortionists, because he is one. Trump-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk will be presiding over the case, and he has a history of working for and with Christian, conservative, anti-abortion organizations. The public can expect a ruling on the case as early as Friday, February 24th.
In the meantime, abortion activists and organizations like Plan C and Aid Access are encouraging people to stock up on abortion medication, even if you’re not pregnant and especially if you don’t have plans to be. You can visit their websites to find abortion resources, information, and even to affordably order pills right to your door. Mifepristone has a shelf life of up to two years when stored at room temperature, so that’s two years of peace-of-mind for yourself or the potential to be an essential resource for someone in your life who may need an abortion.
It’s important to note that medication abortions will still be accessible even if mifepristone were to be banned because misoprostol is still an effective abortifacient on its own. And, because it’s an essential medication for things other than abortion it is unlikely to be banned for political or religious reasons. Misinformation and fear-tactics are a huge part of the anti-abortion movement. Scaring or confusing women into not knowing which states they have certain rights and resources can be a powerful tool in blocking abortion access, alone. If you are curious about medication abortion and/or obtaining one via telehealth, you can visit Plan C’s website, or you can also contact your nearest Planned Parenthood, or local abortion-rights groups.
Top photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels
Zoë is a writer and journalist from Minnesota currently based in Chicago. In her free time she likes to watch TV but she usually lies and says her favorite hobby is reading. She is working towards a career that combines her passion for comedy and journalism to create a more informed and equitable world.