Recent Supreme Court decision overturned Roe v Wadea nearly 50-year-old legal precedent that guarantees the constitutional right to abortion, has left people scrambling to obtain drugs that can terminate or prevent pregnancy.
However, there has been confusion over the difference between medical abortion medication used to terminate a pregnancy and emergency contraception (including Plan B) taken shortly after intercourse. prevent Pregnant.
medical abortion In the United States, it usually consists of a combination of two drugs, both taken by mouth after consulting a healthcare provider. The regimen, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, includes the drugs mifepristone and misoprostol. They work together by causing things like heavy menstrual periods.
Mifepristone (Mifeprex), also known as RU-486, is given within 10 weeks of a pregnant woman’s last menstrual period. It blocks receptors for the hormone progesterone, which causes the embryo to separate from the uterine wall and the lining of the uterus to rupture, ending the pregnancy. Misoprostol (Cytotec) is a synthetic form of prostaglandins, a group of compounds with hormone-like effects that can be taken within a day or two of mifepristone. It causes uterine contractions and softening of the cervix, which empties the uterus. Misoprostol can be taken alone to induce a miscarriage, but it is more effective when taken with mifepristone.
By contrast, the emergency contraceptive pill — sometimes called the “morning pill” — can be taken for up to three to five days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.this medicine Works primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation, or release the egg from the ovary.If ovulation has already occurred, it is hypothesized that morning-after pills may prevent fertilization or implantation of the egg, although Some study It is recommended that it does not affect these processes. Importantly, emergency contraception does not terminate a pregnancy, Definition of the medical profession As a fertilized egg that has implanted in the uterus.
“The main difference between emergency contraception and medical abortion is that emergency contraception prevents pregnancy, whereas medical abortion terminates the pregnancy,” said Jen Villavicencio, director of equity transition at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
There are several types of morning-after pills: plan B, perhaps the best known, consists of the synthetic hormone levonorgestrel, which works by preventing or delaying ovulation. It is available without a prescription and can be taken within 72 hours of intercourse (the sooner Plan B is taken, the better). However, it may not work in people who weigh more than 155 to 165 pounds. “Plan B cannot induce abortion,” a spokesman for Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the company that owns Plan B, wrote in an email. scientific american.
Another emergency contraceptive called Ella Valid for people up to 195 pounds. It contains a drug called ulipristal acetate, which, like Plan B, works by preventing or delaying ovulation. Ella requires a prescription and can be taken within five days of unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken, the better.
While the morning-after pill doesn’t terminate an existing pregnancy, clinics in some states may also erroneously interpret abortion restrictions as prohibiting emergency contraception. St. Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri, Initially discontinued offering Plan B At its locations, the state has banned most abortions, including those resulting from rape or incest. “To ensure that we comply with all state and federal laws — and until the laws in this area are better defined — St. Luke’s will not offer emergency contraception at our Missouri location,” a statement from St. Luke’s Health System Laurel Gifford said in a statement on June 28, it was reported that kansas city star and other sites.But the next day, the health system said it would Resume emergency contraception.
Emergency contraception “should never be subject to laws prohibiting abortion,” Villavicencio said. “Any effect of the abortion ban on emergency contraception is a misuse of the law and a misunderstanding of medical science.”
Contraception — including emergency contraception — remains legal in Missouri and nationwide. But the Kansas City case shows that laws restricting abortion could have a chilling effect on access to contraceptives like Plan B.It’s no easy feat to think the Supreme Court may end up removing protections for contraception in general: opinion in court’s recent decision in his assent Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Healthoverthrown Roe v WadeJustice Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should also reconsider other cases, including Griswold v Connecticut– A 1965 decision affirming the freedom of married couples to purchase and use contraceptives.
Right now, it’s important for patients and policymakers to understand the difference between medical abortion pills (now illegal in some states) and emergency contraception (legal across the country).
“Rejecting people from emergency contraception will only expose more people to the reality of unwanted pregnancies without legal abortion care as a solution,” Villavicencio said.