A federal lawsuit filed in Texas could soon take mifepristone off the market. Mifepristone is the first ingredient in the two-drug medication abortion cocktail. The ban on mifepristone could extend to the states in which abortion is fully or partially legal, significantly restricting abortion rights. The judge in the case, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, is a Trump appointee with a history of reversing progressive and moderate policies and supporting government control of individuals’ lives.
But a new study offers an alternative protocol. According to data just published in the journal Contraception, using the second drug of the abortion pill cocktail, misoprostol, is both safe and effective.
Drawing on data from previous studies, the paper reports that, at most, just 0.7% of people had complications requiring hospitalization. For comparison, tonsilectomy has a re-hospitalization rate about four times that figure. The majority of people who used misoprostol reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the method, and said they would use it again. Ninety-three percent of patients had a complete abortion that did not require additional care or follow-up.
The sample protocol in the study suggests misoprostol is safe during the first trimester, and recommends three to four doses of the drug.
More than half of all abortions are now medication abortions. Abortion, including medication abortion, is one of medicine’s safest procedures—many times safer than birth and pregnancy. An avalanche of data has shown that abortion saves lives. And medication abortion is so low-risk that research consistently finds it is safe to offer via telemedicine. Abortion access is central to pregnancy care, including for wanted pregnancies, and lack of access could affect millions of pregnant people.
As the right moves quickly to limit women’s autonomy, we must continue to stay one step ahead of them. Misoprostol is one option, and likely a temporary one, since the men who want to control women will likely come for it next. For now, though, its availability may offer some comfort.
I’ve written a comprehensive guide to surviving life in a post-Roe world here.