Happy 44th to Roe Vs. Wade and the Legalization of Abortion

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By Melissa Grant

On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-2 majority recognizing the right to an abortion as a fundamental human right.

That was 44 years ago and while the subject of abortion remains uncomfortable for many, it is important that we acknowledge the significance of this decision. Roe Vs. Wade affirmed that abortion was, and still is, basic healthcare.

Fast-forward 44 years and we have seen numerous advances in medicine for reproductive healthcare. From many years of collecting empirical evidence and tracking health outcomes, it is clear that having an abortion in 2017 is one of the safest medical procedures performed today. In fact, it has been proven that legally induced abortion is many times safer than childbirth. 

As we move into 2017, there has been a lot of apprehension about the future of access to abortion and reproductive healthcare. (What may come as a surprise to some decisions makers is there are studies that suggest the repeal of Obamacare may result in a higher abortion rate.)

One bright spot in the face of possible impending abortion restrictions has been the improved access and shared experience of women using medication as an option to induce an abortion. Approved over 16 years ago by the FDA, Mifepristone medication abortion is now commonly used up to 10 weeks after a woman’s last period. Research has shown that the experience of using medication to cause an abortion at home is safe, private, and effective and allows the woman to have more autonomy during the abortion experience. By teaching women how to use the abortion pill, women become less dependent on the traditional in-office medical procedure.

How is medication abortion helpful in the face of a hostile and political environment for abortion providers? Abortion pills are more private, more portable, and offer more flexibility in timing. The pills are also less medically invasive than performing a traditional in-office abortion procedure. It has been proven internationally in countries like India, Mozambique, and Ethiopia that women can be provided these medications by nurse midwives, pharmacists, and other less traditional means and are then able to use them successfully and safely as an alternative to a mandatory visit to the physician’s office. If abortion providers continue to lose ground due to political opposition in the U.S., these experiences overseas may be a helpful path for ongoing access to abortion care for women in our own country.

Since the FDA approved medication abortion in the year 2000, over 2 million U.S. women have used medication to safely and successfully end a pregnancy. Statistics show more and more women are choosing this option for its flexibility, privacy, and safety. That’s why we are running our #10WeekAfterPill campaign. Not only to raise awareness about the abortion pill, but also to improve access to a simple medical option that many may still not be aware of – or in some cases, might confuse with emergency contraception (Plan B).

So let’s recognize the 44th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade by continuing our work to improve the availability of medically accurate information and affordable healthcare. Health, safety, and access are something all people deserve.

Image courtesy of NPR.