“I found my sense of purpose and place by making the decision to provide abortions,

and it is very much consistent with my core values, in regard to my spirituality and my humanity. That's why I do this work.”

Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc

Abortion Access

As physicians, we believe that speaking about abortion helps remove the stigma that has been attached to it by anti-choice lawmakers and organizations. Legislation that puts politics and ideology before the doctor-patient relationship interferes with our ability to provide the highest level of care to our patients.

In no area of medicine other than abortion do our state and federal governments impose morality-based legislation that has the potential to criminalize doctors and manipulate patients in an attempt to sway their health care decisions.

Physicians for Reproductive Health fights for improved access to safe, legal abortion services by advocating at the state and federal levels, speaking out in the media, and encouraging comprehensive reproductive health education in medical residency education.

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Physicians for Reproductive Health: Updated Mifeprex Label Is A Win For Science

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it is revising the label of the drug Mifeprex (mifepristone), a critical step that will ensure that this medication can be provided in accordance with the current standard of care. The announcement means that providers in states that have unnecessarily restricted medication abortion access will once again be able to provide a high standard of evidence-based care to their patients.

Dr. Nancy Stanwood, Board Chair of Physicians for Reproductive Health, issued the following statement in response to the announcement:

“We applaud the FDA for recognizing the safety of medication abortion and the voluminous research that shows evidence-based regimens are beneficial to patients. As physicians, we work every day to provide the highest quality care to our patients. An updated label means that providers in states that require adherence to the FDA-approved Mifeprex label will not have to practice outdated medicine.

 “We at Physicians for Reproductive Health believe strongly that access to abortion is crucial to women’s health. We decry the laws and policies that have targeted abortion for unnecessary restrictions in an effort to discourage providers and block patients. Millions of women in the United States and Europe have used Mifeprex to safely end pregnancies, and it was profoundly disappointing to see it restricted in some states for political reasons. Abortion opponents object to medication abortion because it allows women more options for ending an early pregnancy – and they want to restrict access to this safe method of early abortion.

 “I hope that today marks a new chapter in expanding rather than restricting access to safe abortion, providing women with access to the best modern medical care for their reproductive health needs.”


Background on mifepristone

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a drug called mifepristone, marketed as Mifeprex, for abortion in 2000 after many years of study. It is used in conjunction with another medication called misoprostol. The steady increase in use of medication abortion – now 23% of U.S. abortions – shows that many women prefer this option.

Today’s announcement makes a number of important revisions to the Mifeprex label, including:

  • Lowering the recommended mifepristone dosage from 600mg to 200mg. Numerous studies confirm that mifepristone is equally effective at lower dosages than the regimen in the 2000 label, meaning that a woman can take less medication – resulting in fewer side effects and lower costs.
  • Altering the dosage and route of administration for the second drug in the medication abortion regimen, misoprostol, to reflect the most effective evidence based regimens.
  • Extending the window of use of mifepristone from 49 days to 70 days based on medical research. The time between 49 and 70 days gestation is critical for patient access, as approximately 30% of women who seek an abortion present for care during this time.
  • Allowing health care providers authorized under state law to provide abortion to prescribe mifepristone. The 2000 label restricted distribution to physicians though several states allow advanced practice clinicians to provide abortion care.
  • Ending the requirement that women to have an in-person clinic visit for their follow-up appointments after being prescribed mifepristone. An in-person appointment is not always medically necessary and, when required, creates significant additional costs and barriers to abortion care.


New Report Details Burdens on Women in Texas Seeking Abortion Care

SCOTUS rally picture

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, Texas House Bill 2 (HB2). Now, new research from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP) in the American Journal of Public Health shows that the forced closure of over half of abortion clinics in Texas has, as predicted, resulted in significant burdens for women — including increased travel distances, high out-of-pocket costs, overnight stays, and decreased access to medication abortion. For women in the study whose nearest abortion clinic closed after HB2, the average distance to the nearest provider increased fourfold.

According to author Liza Fuentes: “This study is unusual in its ability to assess multiple burdens imposed on women as a result of clinic closures, but it is important to note that the burdens documented here are not the only hardships that women experienced as a result of HB2.” Previous research by TxPEP has documented both increased wait times experienced by all women accessing abortion care in Texas after HB2 as well as cases of women who were not able to obtain abortion care due to clinic closures.

For copies of the full report, please click here

On the Supreme Court Steps, Our Doctors Are Proud Abortion Providers

Doctors at the Supreme Court RallyToday, during the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, hundreds of reproductive rights supporters rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States. As our colleagues at the Center for Reproductive Rights argued the case inside, speakers from all backgrounds–elected officials, college students, reproductive justice advocates, spiritual leaders, and abortion providers–stood up and said: Stop the sham. 

As our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta said: “When we stand against these sham laws we are standing up for women who have the least access to care, who face the most discrimination, and who are least likely to be able to travel to the only open clinic that may now be hundreds of miles away. We need to ensure that ALL women, no matter their zip code, have access to the care they need and deserve.”

You can watch the entire rally, which features speeches from Dr. Gupta, our board chair-elect Dr. Willie Parker, and Leadership Training Academy alums Dr. Sara Imershein and Dr. Bhavik Kumar, on YouTube.

Finally, we would like to share a wonderful video that was submitted as part of our “Why I Provide/Why I Support” project by Vanessa Cullins, MD, MPH, MBA, who is Vice President for External Medical Affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In this beautiful video, she talks about why she provided abortions as a physician and why she supports all abortion providers and all women who seek abortion care. Please watch it and share with friends and loved ones.

If you’re feeling inspired, please send us your own video. Read more about the project here

On the 43rd Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Our Doctors #ReclaimRoe

Antonella LavelanetForty-three years ago, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States in its landmark decision on Roe v. Wade. In the current political climate, there is reason to celebrate another year with legal abortion as the law of the land. But there is no doubt that millions of women cannot exercise this constitutional right without overcoming significant barriers.

Physicians for Reproductive Health is doing everything we can to #ReclaimRoe, making the promise of Roe v. Wade a reality for every single woman in America. As part of today's anniversary, we are pleased to feature a piece by current Leadership Training Academy fellow, Antonella Lavelanet, DO, JD.

Late in 2015, a United Nations Working Group traveled to the United States to assess the state of U.S. women’s human rights, including the ability to access comprehensive reproductive health care. As a self-proclaimed world leader devoted to medical and scientific advancement, one might expect that the U.S. leads the pack in terms of protecting the health of its citizens. And yet, what the UN group found instead were core failures to advance women’s standing in society. In its initial report, the group’s human rights experts pointed out that paid maternity leave is not universal in our country, that U.S. policy- and law-making bodies lack adequate representation of women and their needs, and that the full spectrum of reproductive health care services is not accessible to many women.

As an obstetrician/gynecologist specializing in family planning, these findings come as no surprise to me. Continue reading Dr. Lavelanet's piece >>