Abortion Pill Use a Factor in Drop in U.S. Abortion Rate

The Supreme Court decision on the landmark Roe v. Wade case legalized abortion in America on January 22, 1973. That year, the legal abortion rate was 16.3 abortions per 1,000 women in the U.S. Since then, the abortion rate has fluctuated to as high as 19.4 in 2008 and to the current all-time low of 14.6 based on most recent data from 2014. While the exact reasons why the U.S. Abortion Rate Dropped 25% in Six Years have not yet been established, Support Circle has identified a number of contributing factors evidenced by recent data including:  Less Teen Intercourse, The Work of Pregnancy Centers, the Trend of Delayed Childbirth, and State Abortion Law Restrictions. The fifth factor is the rising popularity of the abortion pill.  Ironically, the growing prominence of the abortion pill has led to a burgeoning black market online for its illegal sale. This black market artificially masks the true U.S. abortion rate, as only legally obtained abortions count in the statistic.

There are two categories of abortion: surgical and medical.  Medical abortions are facilitated through the abortion pill.  More women seeking first trimester abortions are opting for medical abortions. According to Reuters research, medical abortions accounted for 43% of terminations at Planned Parenthood clinics in 2014, up from 35% from 2010. Medical abortions were performed more than surgical abortions in Michigan (55%) and Iowa (64%), states with few abortion restrictions.

California is another state with few abortion restrictions and where Medi-Cal pays abortion costs. For some women throughout the country, obtaining any type of abortion may not be as easy. Because of the barriers they face (i.e. state restrictions, limited abortion providers, living in remote locations, lack of finances, etc.) oftentimes, women may turn to online providers for the abortion pill.

FDA Regulations

Women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant may have a choice between a surgical abortion (D&C) performed in a licensed medical clinic or hospital, or a medical abortion which can be completed at home or outside a medical facility. The abortion pill is a two-drug regimen consisting of Mifepristone and Mifeprex, that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA-approved abortion pill process stipulates an ultrasound to date the pregnancy and confirm that it is not an ectopic pregnancy, obtaining the abortion pill regimen through a prescription from a medical provider, and a follow-up visit 7-14 days later to ensure the contents of the uterus were safely expunged. The FDA has approved this process for the safety of women’s health.

Black Market Skirts These Regulations

Abortion pills obtained on the internet without a prescription are illegal and potentially dangerous.  The allure is that they may be offered at a lower cost than local pharmacies and can be obtained in states with abortion laws restricting access to the abortion pill. Only legally obtained medical abortions are included in the official U.S. abortion rate, so, without regulation of online sales, it is difficult to gauge how much higher the abortion rate would be when taking into account black market abortion pills.

Disturbingly, black market abortion pills disregard the safety of women. Without regulation, the pills may not be exactly what the woman believes she ordered, ineffective, or cause adverse side effects. Abortion pills obtained online also bypass important safeguards including the ultrasound to verify and date the pregnancy as well as the follow-up visit to verify the contents of the uterus cleared completely.

Ultrasounds are important because the abortion pill does not work on ectopic pregnancies and the FDA has not approved the abortion pill for safe use after 10 weeks gestation.  Support Circle provides ultrasounds at no cost to our clients to officially verify and date pregnancies.

Without any data on how many abortion pills are sold online to women in America, it is impossible to make an accurate accounting of how many total abortions are performed each year. This means the U.S. abortion rate is most likely higher than assumed based on 2014 findings. But how much higher, we can’t know. Regardless, the general consensus is that the abortion rate has declined due to several concurrent factors, and the masking effect of the abortion pill black market does not negate this overall decline.

 

Helpful Links

US Abortion Rate Dropped 25% in Six Years

Factor One: Less Teen Intercourse

Factors Two and Three: Pregnancy Centers and Delayed Abortion

Factor Four: State Abortion Law Restrictions

 

Reference Links

FDA-Approved regimen to end early pregnancy

Reuters. Abortion by Prescription Rivals Surgery for U.S. Women. 2016

Cosmopolitan Magazine. Are abortion pills online safe?

 

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Abortion Pill Use a Factor in Drop in U.S. Abortion Rate
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Abortion Pill Use a Factor in Drop in U.S. Abortion Rate
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While the exact reasons why the U.S. Abortion Rate Dropped 25% in Six Years have not yet been established, Support Circle has identified a number of contributing factors evidenced by recent data including: Less Teen Intercourse, The Work of Pregnancy Centers, the Trend of Delayed Childbirth, and State Abortion Law Restrictions. The fifth factor is the rising popularity of the abortion pill.
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Support Circle Pregnancy Clinics
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