Doctors Right, Politicians Wrong on Prescribing Abortion Drugs


Hey, wow, who could’ve predicted this: a new study on mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs taken together to induce an abortion, shows that it’s perfectly safe to use a lower dosage of the drugs than the FDA recommends. Doctors have been saying that since at least 2001. It’s almost as though their medical training gives them a special understanding of how drugs work?

The study, released in the journal Contraception and which we saw via Think Progress, is important because for years, anti-abortion politicians have been passing laws to restrict RU-486, the drug that combines a dose of mifepristone and a dose of misoprostol, to its FDA-approved use, rather than allowing doctors to prescribe a lower-safer dose off-label or let them prescribe it slightly later in pregnancy than the FDA guidelines currently dictate. (Arizona, for example, wants to make RU-486 illegal after the seventh week of pregnancy, though most studies show it’s effective for about nine weeks, a very big differenced when you’re dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.)

The FDA guidelines, released in 2000 and never updated, call for 600 milligrams of mifepristone to be taken orally. But the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians (ACOG) says 200 milligrams is safer, cheaper, and has fewer side effects. The Contraception study, which followed over 13,000 women, also found that lower doses of the drug are safe and effective, with a 97.7 percent success rate at inducing an abortion. Rates of infection requiring hospitalization and rates of women who need a blood transfusion afterwards were also very low: 0.01 percent and 0.03 percent, respectively. And the study showed that it’s safe for patients to take the drugs at home, rather than requiring them to take both doses in a doctor’s office, another popular requirement among anti-abortion politicians.

Americans United for Life, the lobbying group which writes model anti-abortion legislation, calls RU-486 “virtually unregulated” and claims doctors only allow women to take the drug at home because it’s “more profitable.” ACOG says women can “safely and effectively” administer misoprostol at home.

The Contraception study concludes that the drug is safe through 63 days (nine weeks) of pregnancy, adding that their research “contributes to the existing evidence against restrictions requiring use of the FDA-approved regimen in the United States.”

But what do doctors and scientists know? I’d far rather take my medical advice from people like new Texas State Representative Molly White, who blames abortion for her subsequent years of drug addiction, and carries pamphlets in her car on the dangers of abortion and birth control pills next to “rubber fetuses of different sizes,” according to the Texas Tribune. She sounds like she knows what she’s talking about.

Image via AP

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin