The FDA made huge progress in providing safe, accessible abortion to women with their update on regulations involving the abortion pill Mifeprex. The old regulations recommended a dosage of 600 mg, which is much more likely to cause side effects than a lower, equally as effective dose. Furthermore, the higher dosage forced women to visit a doctor three times instead of two. Adjusting these restrictions has made it possible for women to more easily access abortion — everywhere except North Dakota, Ohio, and Texas.
In Texas, where restrictions on abortion are extremely problematic for abortion seekers and arguably unconstitutional, these new regulations on the pill will hopefully allow more women to use their right to abortion with less resistance from the state.
Currently, a woman must go through numerous state-enforced procedures designed to indirectly discourage her from getting an abortion under the guise of concern for women’s health. Women must receive state mandated counselling at least 24 hours before the procedure can be performed, during which time they are presented a list of every rare side effect of abortion. A woman must also undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion, be shown the ultrasound images and listen to an explanation of the images. If she is within 100 miles of an abortion provider, this must be done within 24 hours of the abortion being performed. Public funding is only available in the case of rape or incest.
The biggest opportunity for improvement is that many states, including Texas, mandate that a medication must be used according to the label. By changing the label to make this medication less restrictive, even states with the most restrictive laws are forced to make the medication more accessible. Such accessibility seems reasonable as many doctors already alter the recommended dosage using a common practice in medicine called off-label use, in cases that the lower dose is equally as effective.
The FDA’s recent reduction of recommended dosage makes this pill could be a major step toward implementing such lower dosage recommendations and increasing access, especially in rural areas. This method would be more useful than other means, like telemedicine, or medical services provided via the internet, that are banned in Texas.; however, in line with its efforts to increase safe access to abortion, the FDA made Mifeprex available by telemedicine if the state allows it. This would allows women in rural areas to have access to an abortion without actually visiting a clinic.
Considering the extremely limited number of abortion clinics in Texas, and more closures due to HB2, these restrictions are extremely important to continue women’s freedom. 60% of abortion clinics in Texas have recently closed and now are located mostly in metropolitan areas, which makes it difficult for the rural areas of the state to access an abortion.
Ultimately, Texas needs to eliminate its hypocrisy and allow the FDA to do its job. This pill has been proven to be safe. If Texas is going to preach small and minimally invasive government, it is incredibly hypocritical to think that controlling 50% of the population’s bodies is acceptable. Instead of blocking the federal government at every turn, and actually attempting to make government smaller, Texas should accept the constitutionality of abortion and back off.
Kashar is an English freshman from Scarsdale, NY. Follow her on Twitter @LeahKashar.