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Opinion: Mifepristone should be permanently offered in pharmacies across the U.S.

Join+WSPN%E2%80%99s+Olivia+Green+as+she+discusses+the+temporary+availability+of+the+abortion+pill+mifepristone+in+pharmacies.+
Credit: Olivia Green
Join WSPN’s Olivia Green as she discusses the temporary availability of the abortion pill mifepristone in pharmacies.

As of March, the pregnancy termination medication mifepristone is available for pickup in local CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. CVS will provide it solely in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while Walgreens will be providing access in Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, California and Pennsylvania. Because of a change in FDA regulation, these pharmacies are now able to dispense mifepristone as if it were any other over-the counter medication.

However, in light of the change in regulations, a conservative group called the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM) has chosen to challenge the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in front of the Supreme Court. The AHM’s argument will be heard starting on March 26. Consequently, while the Supreme Court hears FDA vs. AHM, the availability of mifepristone in pharmacies is only temporary and subject to change based on the Supreme Court’s ruling.

But what is mifepristone? One of two pregnancy termination medications used in the U.S., mifepristone is a drug that blocks progesterone, the hormone needed in order to continue a pregnancy. Approved in 2000 by the FDA, mifepristone was only available by prescription and pickup from a specialist before the recent change in regulations.

“With major retail pharmacy chains newly certified to dispense medication abortion, many women will soon have the option to pick up their prescription at a local, certified pharmacy,” President Joe Biden said in a statement on March 1. “I encourage all pharmacies that want to pursue this option to seek certification.”

There are many reasons a woman might get an abortion, which can include partner related issues, rape, limited resource and frankly, the fact that taking care of a child can easily take over a large part of one’s life, which some women may not be interested in.

Mifepristone has been proven to be a safe and effective alternative to surgical abortions. Therefore, it’s hard to imagine what some people see wrong with it. There is no reason why a woman should have to go through the process of setting up an appointment with a doctor solely to be prescribed mifepristone, when it would be so much easier to get it by mail or in a pharmacy. A woman should never have to go through the agony of waiting for mifepristone, especially in the case of an emergency. Furthermore, what about the women living in remote places that might not have access to shipping or nearby doctors? All of these questions must be considered as we discuss mifepristone and its availability in pharmacies.

“[Preventing access to mifepristone] is removing people’s human rights,” Jeffrey Bratberg said, professor of pharmacy practice and clinical research at the University of Rhode Island. “And so I think that we need to rethink. We need to rethink why we’re taking away rights and taking away health care from a particular group of people.”

The fact that this issue has to be brought all the way to the Supreme Court when it is a simple step forward in women’s rights is an abomination. There are thousands of women who could’ve saved so much time, emotional strain and physical pain relating to unwanted pregnancies or miscarriages if mifepristone access in pharmacies had been given sooner.

It is crucial that we as a society reflect on what the disconnect is between healthcare and abortion. It seems very common nowadays that people put the two in separate groups. Abortion is defined as the deliberate termination of a pregnancy, and although it should be acknowledged that it’s a serious decision to make, it’s still a form of healthcare.

“I think this is just a safe and effective medication for a common condition and that people should have access to it,” Bratberg said.

The change in FDA regulations that has allowed mifepristone to be dispensed in pharmacies is an unprecedented step forward in women’s rights and should be protected at all costs. Giving women access to a drug that could potentially save their lives is a basic human liberty. Many might argue that terminating a fetus should be considered murder. But what about all the women that die in childbirth? According to the CDC, over 1000 women died of maternal causes in 2021. This shocking number could have been lowered considerably if the women who wished to terminate their pregnancy had the resources to do so.

“One in eight women have miscarriages, so we need people who are both choosing to electively terminate their pregnancy or have unintended pregnancy loss [to] have access to the medications that are safe and effective to treat those conditions,” Bratberg said.

So what is the reasoning behind keeping this decision temporary? Who does it hurt other than the pride of the people who insist that abortion is wrong?

28% of states in the U.S. already have abortion banned, and with upcoming Supreme Court cases, this number could increase. It must be considered that the number of desperate women that are in need of mifepristone will increase as well. Therefore, it’s crucial during this time that providing access to mifepristone in local pharmacies is permanently allowed.

As the Supreme Court hears the mifepristone case starting March 26, it’s important to keep in mind that 94% of the Supreme Court judges are men. To put it frankly, the defense for this case needs to be presented clearly and carefully. The justices need to be able to see both the clinical and experiential sides of the need for abortion in order to allow mifepristone to continue to be offered in pharmacies. In order to do this, join me in my support of women’s rights and therefore my support of the medication mifepristone being permanently available in pharmacies. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case is expected to be presented near the end of June. Until then, I call upon the community to offer as much support for local activists, family members and women in their lives as possible.

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About the Contributor
Olivia Green, Staff Reporter
Olivia Green, Class of 2027, is a first year reporter for WSPN. She plays for the freshman volleyball team in the fall. Outside of school, she loves to cook, go outside and spend time with her friends and family. Contact: [email protected]
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