More than half of US medical abortions in 2020 – report

February 24 (Reuters) – Abortions by medication accounted for more than half of all abortions in the United States in 2020, a new survey has found, a sharp increase from previous years as pills become more widely available and surgical abortions harder to come by were.

According to a survey released Thursday by the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights research group, 54 percent of abortions performed in 2020 involved the two-pill method as opposed to a surgical procedure.

The data showed a jump from 2017, when Guttmacher found that 39% of abortions were medical. The research group collects data from US abortion providers every three years.

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Abortion rights advocates see medical abortion as essential to the future of access to abortion in the United States, so that women living far from clinics can term their pregnancies without significant travel and financial hurdles.

The US Supreme Court could overhaul abortion laws as early as this spring when it is expected to rule on a Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks. The court, with its Conservative majority of 6:3, has signaled its willingness to uphold the ban. Such a judgment would rule out the case of Roe v. Wade of 1973, which established the right to terminate the pregnancy before the fetus is viable at around 24 weeks. If Roe is overthrown, about two dozen states would act quickly to ban abortion.

“Particularly when patients live in states where abortion is banned, patients may be able to access medical abortions over the Internet,” said Elizabeth Nash, state policy expert at Guttmacher. “For many people, it may be easier to access abortion treatments online than it is to travel hundreds of miles to get to a facility.”

Anti-abortion advocates see restricting access to the pill as a new front in their fight against abortion. So far this year, Guttmacher said at least 16 state legislatures have introduced legislation that would limit or ban the administration of abortion pills.

The use of drugs to terminate a pregnancy up to 10 weeks was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000. The method involves two medications that are taken over a day or two. The first, mifepristone, blocks the pregnancy-maintaining hormone progesterone. The second, misoprostol, induces uterine contractions.

For years, the FDA has restricted the use of medical abortions through measures such as: B. dispensing mifepristone in person, rather than allowing it to be prescribed remotely and mailed. The FDA eased its restrictions in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic presented a barrier to personal healthcare. The agency then permanently eased its previous restrictions on the pill in December 2021, allowing the drug to be prescribed by certified providers via telemedicine and shipped through the mail.

However, laws in some states further limit the accessibility of medical abortions. In 19 states, the doctor prescribing the pills must be present when the pills are administered, meaning telemedicine is not allowed.

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Reporting by Gabriella Borter Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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