by Grace, Repro Fund NH intern
With new information, restrictions, and court rulings emerging daily, it has become increasingly vital to understand the accessibility of reproductive care within one’s state. For pregnancy-capable people, this can seem overwhelming, and the latest ruling on the most widely used medication for abortion, Mifepristone, can seem confusing.1 On August 16th, The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled in favor of the plaintiff, a conservative Christian legal advocacy group known as The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).2 The verdict states that Mifepristone should not be prescribed beyond the seventh week of pregnancy, a mere three weeks after a person’s first missed period. The ruling also aims to restrict tele-health, stating that Mifepristone cannot be prescribed via telemedicine.2 This is a huge blow for pregnancy-capable people for obvious reasons. According to Planned Parenthood, Mifepristone has been a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy for more than twenty years in the United States.3 ADF’s attack on telemedicine is detrimental as well. While tele-health offers enhanced accessibility and convenience, it has also proven to be significantly cheaper than traditional in-person appointments.4 Additionally, it has been reported that some of the highest rates of tele-health visits were by Black Americans and those on Medicaid.5 Anti-abortion laws disproportionately impact Black women and women in poverty and now, ADF is intensifying the impact on these communities by seeking to eliminate access to Mifepristone via tele-health. Ensuring that everyone, particularly these marginalized groups, maintains access to the more affordable and convenient telemedicine is of the utmost importance.
Upon first glance, the recent ruling may appear confusing to many. While this court’s decision aims to limit access to mifepristone, there is a silver lining – the Supreme Court had previously intervened to prevent a lower court’s ban on Mifepristone. As a result, this ruling will stay in effect until the Supreme Court weighs in, with a potential ruling expected in the Spring of 2024.2 Thus, for now, Mifepristone remains available in states that hadn’t previously banned abortion after the fall of Roe v. Wade. The Guttmacher Institute has an updated list of what states have restrictions and bans on Mifepristone.
ReproFund’s mission is to help those in need of reproductive care in our community. This includes providing up-to-date information on access to Mifepristone in New Hampshire. We work with organizations like Aid Access and Abortion on Demand to help make medication abortion more accessible to New Hampshire residents. Currently, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England also offers tele-health videos for abortion pills for those physically in ME, NH, or VT.3 All of these organizations will ship pills directly to your house in a discrete, unmarked package, with no return address to ensure confidentiality.3
The recent ruling on Mifepristone serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges pregnancy-capable people face. While the decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals is a setback, it is important to remember that we need to keep fighting for our reproductive freedom and that this battle is far from over. The stay by the Supreme Court, which preserves access to Mifepristone until their rule in Spring 2024, offers a glimmer of hope. During these wavering times, organizations like ReproFund and Planned Parenthood play an essential role in providing crucial information or tele-health services to those in need. Stay informed, stay engaged, and together, we can ensure that everyone’s reproductive freedom is protected!
- KFF Health News, “The Availability and Use of Medication Abortion,” KFF Health News, June 1, 2023, https://www.kff.org/womens-health-policy/fact-sheet/the-availability-and-use-of-medication-abortion/#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20medication%20abortion.
- Selena Simmons-Duffin and Diane Webber, “Ruling Deals Blow to Access to Abortion Pill Mifepristone— but Nothing Changes Yet,” NPR, August 16, 2023, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/08/16/1194280392/ruling-deals-blow-to-access-to-abortion-pill-mifepristone-but-nothing-changes-ye#:~:text=A%20federal%20appeals%20court%20ruled%20Wednesday%20that%20mifepristone%2C%20one%20of.
- Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, “Telehealth Visit for Abortion Pills,” www.plannedparenthood.org, accessed September 3, 2023, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-northern-new-england/for-patients/health-services/telehealth-visit-abortion-pills#:~:text=Book%20your%20telehealth%20appointment%20for.
- Anson Jones, “Telemedicine Visits Significantly Cheaper than In-Person, Research Finds,” BenefitsPRO, June 28, 2023, https://www.benefitspro.com/2023/06/28/telemedicine-visits-significantly-cheaper-than-in-person-research-finds/?slreturn=20230803154430.
- Euny C. Lee, Violanda Grigorescu, Idia Enogieru, Scott R. Smith, Lok Wong Samson, Ann B. Conmy, and Nancy De Lew. Updated National Survey Trends in Telehealth Utilization and Modality (2021-2022). The Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, 2023.