According to a survey issued on Wednesday by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over half of the American citizens, including 2 out of 5 women of reproductive age, are uncertain of their state’s laws on medication abortion.
Midway through January, more than six months after the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, which reversed Roe v. Wade and repealed the federal right to abortion, a survey was performed.
In the weeks following the high court’s decision, “trigger bans”—laws that forbid or severely restrict abortion—went into force in several states. However, several of those laws are in doubt because of legal challenges.
Even before Dobbs, experts say, the legal environment surrounding abortion was changing quickly. There were more options to acquire medication abortion thanks to new telehealth regulations implemented during the Covid-19 epidemic. Now that state legislatures are in session for the first time since that choice, more changes are unavoidable.
“It’s understandable to be confused about all the different ways in which someone can access medication abortion and wonder which ways are legal and which ways are a little bit more outside of the legal framework,” said Asha Hassan, a reproductive health researcher with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity.
We’re currently on a learning curve. Education must then be updated because the environment is continuously changing.
According to the KFF poll, approximately half of the respondents are unsure of the legal status of medication abortion in their state, whether it is legal or not in states where abortion is prohibited. And some people are misusing it.
About 13% of adults in states with abortion bans believe falsely that medical abortion is legal. Furthermore, 10% of those in states where abortion is permitted believe that the drug is forbidden.
According to Kirsten Moore, the project’s director, this uncertainty may be a barrier in and of itself. The White House and other activists have made raising awareness and combating false information a top goal.
It’s not just about establishing legislation that makes abortion illegal, according to politicians and other pro-lifers. The goal is to instill a sense of risk or danger, she explained. The fear of legal risk “may dissuade people even if active efforts are not taken.”
President Biden has urged action to especially safeguard access to mifepristone, a pharmaceutical abortion treatment that has been given US Food and Drug Administration approval.
The FDA authorized a provision in early January that would permit some pharmacies to give the medication straight to customers who had a prescription.
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This increases access because, in the past, only specific healthcare providers could deliver pharmacological abortions. However, it has never been sold without a prescription.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy group focusing on sexual and reproductive health that supports abortion rights, the majority of abortions in the US are pharmaceutical abortions – as opposed to a medical operations.
However, there is still considerable ambiguity over how to obtain a medication abortion. The KFF poll found that over 50% of adults are unsure if a prescription is necessary for a pharmacological abortion.
One in ten persons, including nearly as many women, mistakenly believe that it does not need a prescription. The majority of adults (62%) are aware that the morning-after pill or Plan B—an emergency contraceptive—is not the same as the abortion pill.
Additionally, the majority of persons are aware that all 50 states, including their own, have access to contraceptive tablets. However, over three-quarters believe that birth control pills can end a pregnancy in its early stages.
To ensure that people are aware that [medication abortion] is safe and currently much more accessible than surgical abortion, there is much growth and effort that can be done in the healthcare business and environment, according to Hassan.