Mifepristone at 15: A Cup Half Full


A short history and the present status of mifepristone in the U.S.

September 28, 2015 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the FDA approval of mifepristone (also known as RU-486 or “the abortion pill”) for use in the United States. This medication, when used in combination with another drug, misoprostol, in early pregnancy will induce an abortion. As with all medical matters pertaining to abortion, the availability of mifepristone has always been entangled with abortion politics. The story of mifepristone, in the U.S. and elsewhere, is therefore one of both determined pushback by antiabortion forces and remarkable resilience by equally determined abortion rights advocates.

The drug was initially developed in France, but the German firm that held the patent, Hoechst AG, refused to produce it, because of boycott threats from the U.S. antiabortion movement; in a stirring development, however, in 1988 the French government forced the French subsidiary of the firm to do so, declaring the drug, in the words of the French Minister of Health, “the moral property of women.” (more…)


Will abortion opponents use a familiar playbook to push for a 20 week ban?

Screen shot of MSNBC report on House GOP efforts to introduce new abortion bans

On the first day of the new Congress in January, anti-abortion legislators in the House introduced the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. The bill would have banned abortions after 20 weeks, except for those due to rape, incest or threats to the life of the pregnant woman.

The House had planned to vote on this measure on January 22, the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision, but at the last minute canceled the vote. GOP lawmakers, many of them women, objected to the stringent rape reporting requirement included in the act.

Reports suggest, however, that this is not the end of the story for the federal 20 week ban and that a modified version of this bill will be voted on at a later date. (more…)


“False Witnesses” tells the truth

RH Reality Check‘s exposé on inaccurate “expert” testimony

With False Witnesses, its recent exposé of the coterie of anti-abortion “experts” who routinely offer testimony in legislative and legal hearings involving abortion, Sofia Resnick and Sharona Coutts, the investigative reporter team at RH Reality Check, have performed a great public service. The report offers chilling details of individuals who are driven by an ideological agenda, who are willing to ignore accepted scientific evidence or to intentionally distort it, and who are being paid handsomely by taxpayers for committing this scientific malpractice. Most disturbingly, whether cynically or naively, legislators and judges are making consequential decisions about numerous abortion restrictions based on this flawed testimony. (more…)


Tubal ligation in Catholic hospitals:
A qualitative study of ob–gyns’ experiences

Scripps Mercy Hospital

In our recently published qualitative study, obstetrician-gynecologists who work in Catholic hospitals say that not being able to perform a post-partum tubal ligation (sterilization procedure) is a major frustration that gets in the way of good patient care. It’s frustrating because hospital religious policy mandates that physicians cannot give the patient what she wants and needs, despite their own medical judgment. One doctor we quoted in the article explains,

“If you’re doing a C-section on somebody that wants a tubal and has had six other previous C-sections and, you know, if I tie her tubes I’m going to get kicked off the staff. And I just don’t think that’s right.”



Can abortion be funny? Thoughts on Obvious Child.

Obvious ChildObvious Child opens with a joke about vaginal discharge and ends with Donna, its protagonist, wrapped in blankets on her couch, sipping tea, resting after her abortion.  These moments represent the film’s strengths—its hilarity, its irreverence, its sincerity, and its quietly revolutionary story.

Our research here at ANSIRH has shown how fraught cinematic abortion stories can be.

Characters who consider having abortions often have their plans fortuitously derailed by pregnancy loss or change their minds suddenly in the waiting room of the clinic, or, should they actually get an abortion, deal with relationships falling apart, future infertility, or even tragic deaths. The few abortion stories that avoid these pitfalls are still serious and often grim; abortion is almost always the obstacle that nearly thwarts the protagonist’s happiness, and almost never the easy, safe path to that happy ending. (more…)