A GOP lawmaker is looking to make Texas the latest state to restrict the use of abortion medications in a way that some experts warn could increase the drugs’ side effects while making them more expensive.
Anti-abortion activists and legislators can’t enact an outright ban on abortion-inducing drugs like mifepristone (formerly known as RU-486). Instead, they have sought to force doctors to strictly adhere to U.S Food and Drug Administration guidelines that appear to be significantly out of step with the current scientific understanding of how the medications should be used.
Lawmakers have passed abortion drug restrictions in Arizona and Ohio, overcoming legal challenges. The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled that similar legislation in that state was unconstitutional. A North Dakota bill is currently tied up in litigation.
In Texas, state Sen. Dan Patrick’s bill, which mirrors model legislation drafted by anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, would require doctors who prescribe an abortion drug to follow the protocol outlined in the official drug label approved by the FDA. He introduced similar legislation in 2011– with the AUL’s support – but it didn’t pass. Patrick also authored the state’s controversial pre-abortion sonogram law.
In most state’s, doctors aren’t required to abide by the FDA guidelines. And since the FDA only regulates the drug market and not the practice of medicine, “off-label” treatment isn’t against federal law either. In fact, the FDA itself notes that physicians may prescribe a medication off-label as long as they are well informed about the product and “base its use on firm scientific rationale and on sound medical evidence.”
AUL insists that off-label use of mifepristone “can be deadly.” While Patrick did not respond to interview requests from The American Independent, he “said the intent of [the bill] is to improve the doctor-patient relationship” in an email to the Texas Tribune. But the legislation’s strict adherence to the FDA guidelines worries reproductive health care advocates and medical experts. They say a substantial body of recent research shows that the mifepristone drug label is outdated, potentially creating unnecessary burdens, financial costs, and health risks for women.
During a medical abortion, mifepristone is given to the woman at the clinic. The second round of medicine, misoprostol, is taken a day or two later to help end the pregnancy.
The FDA guidelines say that women should take 600 milligrams of mifepristone. But 2012 World Health Organization guidelines recommend a lower dose of mifepristone. Citing several studies, the report states that “200 mg of mifepristone is the dosage of choice, since it is as effective as 600 mg, and reduces costs” when it is followed by a dose of misoprostol.
Some of the language in Patrick’s bill is ambiguous, but it appears that it would also require women to receive their second dose of abortion pills – the misoprostol – in the presence of her doctor rather than at home, where it is typically taken. A number of reproductive health advocates find that rule troubling.
According to the National Abortion Federation, the majority of women who take mifepristone will abort within four hours of using misoprostol. Because of this, most women choose to take the misoprostol dose in the comfort of their own home due to painful side effects such as cramping and excessive bleeding that can also occur within the first few hours. Nausea, vomiting, and fever are among the other side effects women may experience, according to NAF.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled late Tuesday that Texas can cut off funding for Planned Parenthood clinics that provide health services to low-income women before a trial over a new law that bans state money from going to organizations tied to abortion providers.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans lifted a federal judge’s temporary injunction calling for the funding to continue pending an October trial on Planned Parenthood’s challenge to the law.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) effectively defunded his state’s Planned Parenthood earlier this year by barring it and any other “abortion affiliates” from receiving funds under the Texas Women’s Health Program (TWHP). The government eventually cut off the program for not complying with the law, but Perry insisted he’d continue it — but on his own terms.
It turns out those terms mean blocking funding for anyone who even talks about abortion.
In a letter explaining the Texas Department of Health and Human Services’s proposed new rules, they have expanded their ban from “affiliates” (abortion providers or clinics attached to abortion providers) to “promoters” and those who affiliate with “promoters.”..
Banning “promotion” effectively means banning any women’s health care provider who mentions the word abortion or has informational material about how a woman might be able to seek out the procedure. Banning those who affiliate with someone who promotes abortion even further broadens the number of facilities that will not be able to recieve state funds.
This is outrageous! Women of Texas, take note.
See this and more on my Pinterest War on Women wall of shame.
so, let’s be clear that this is not banning use of state or federal money for abortion. This is banning doctors from providing any information about abortion (where to get it, health benefits and risks, etc) to a client who is paying for the consultation through TWHP.
But let’s talk about this “war on women” phrase. Statistics showing who uses TWHP by race are difficult to find (if not nonexistent), but this is a Medicaid program and about 62% of medicaid users in Texas identify as Hispanic (source). That should make a massive difference in how we talk about these rules.
Cause from where I sit, looking at that number, it’s disingenuous to say this is part of a war on all women. This is about hispanic women in Texas. This is about keeping them impoverished for generations; it’s about forcing them to have babies they can’t afford and then calling them leeches on society for doing things like using government resources to feed their kids (like all hispanic people are, because they’re all undocumented immigrants who don’t deserve access to our resources, right?); it’s about keeping birth rates among hispanic women high to feed the “anchor baby” myth and manipulate white fears of not being the majority population in Texas anymore for political gain.
Calling this part of a “war on women” erases these racialized effects of the law. And this is HARDLY the only “war on women” law that disproportionately affects non-white women - in fact most of what I’ve seen come out of the “war” ends up disproportionately affecting non-white women.
how long are we going to keep refusing to acknowledge that this “war” has been mainly about implementing gendered forms of structural racism?
This is Gisella Perl, a a successful Jewish gynaecologist in Sighet, Romania in the 1930s and 40s. She was taken to Auschwitz in 1944, where she treated women with kindness and compassion. She was asked to report all pregnant women to Josef Mengele- better known as the Angel of Death. When she discovered what was done to them (medical experimentation and torture, ending with often being thrown alive into the crematoriums) she vowed that there would never again be a pregnant woman in Auschwitz. So she began the abortions.
In her time in Auschwitz, Dr. Perl performed over 3,000 abortions in spite of her professional and religious beliefs as a doctor and an observant Jew. Any babies born alive in Auschwitz were usually drowned, despite Mengele’s orders to allow them to starve to death. Because of Dr. Perl’s brave actions in performing these abortions, many women made it out of Aschwitz alive, able to go on and have families after the war.
Although she was vilified by many for her actions, there is no doubt that she is not the monster abortionists are made out to be. This woman, this doctor, this abortionist was a hero. Despite her personal beliefs, she understood what had to be done. If you click the photo, you can go to a more extensive biography of her- she was a true hero.
And this is why the next person who tries to Godwin’s Law the abortion debate is getting punched in the mouth.
Indeed. I wish that all the jerkwads who try to compare abortion to the Holocaust (or slavery) and then respond with “but but but….the absent label of ‘person’!” when confronted with the many reasons their comparison is offensive, insensitive, and just plain inaccurate would read (and understand) this story (and others like it.)
(that was a really convoluted sentence. but i’m not going to reword it. apologies.)
By 2007, scientific consensus was building that morning-after pills did not block implantation. In one study using fertilized eggs that would have been discarded from fertility clinics, Dr. Gemzell-Danielsson found that adding Plan B in a dish did not prevent them from attaching to cells that line the uterus.
Later, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, researchers in Australia and Chile gave Plan B to women after determining with hormone tests which women had ovulated and which had not.
None who took the drug before ovulation became pregnant, underscoring how Plan B delays ovulation. Women who had ovulated became pregnant at the same rate as if they had taken no drug at all. In those cases, there were no difficulties with implantation, said one of the researchers, Gabriela Noé, at the Instituto Chileno de Medicina Reproductiva in Santiago. Dr. Blithe of the N.I.H., said, ‘No one can say that it works to inhibit implantation based on these data.’
A month ago, the story The Right Not to Know appeared in the Texas Observer: one woman’s experience with a second-trimester abortion after discovering her desperately-wanted baby had a genetic defect that meant abortion was by far the more humane choice. This was just after Texas’s new sonogram law went into effect, meaning that she had to endure not only a 24-hour wait, not only have a third (and medically-unnecessary) sonogram, but was also forced to listen to the abortion doctor describe the sonogram images and read off a boilerplate (bullshit) state-mandated script about the risks of abortion.
My heart was breaking as I read the article — I challenge anyone to read it and not be furious — but one paragraph in particular really stood out to me. Emphasis is mine:“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.
Hang on, I thought. I’d just been to the dentist; the dentist’s office specifically invites you to bring your iPod or other handheld music device to help drown out the sound of the drill, and if you don’t have one, they have one in the office (loaded with Metallica and Guns and Roses and other loud stompy music) that they can lend you. Surely if it works for dentistry, it would work for this as well. This is a problem technology can solve!
The president/CEO of Planned Parenthood of West Texas got back to me this week and said she’d love to take me up on it. So I’m fundraising! She has requested four units (one for Abilene, one for San Angelo, and two for Midland) and it’s possible more clinics might get back to me requesting the same, since I asked the woman who replied to my initial broadcast email to forward it around in a more directed fashion.
The goal right now: $480 to cover four 8GB iPod Nano units and $560 to cover seven pairs (to make sure there’s one spare in each location, since headphones are less durable) of Audio Technica ATH-ANC1 QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling On-Ear Headphones. So, total fundraising goal for this round, which may increase if more clinics get back to me: $1060.
signal boost. please give if you can guys
THIS IS FUCKING AMAZING.
This is a GREAT idea!
Seriously, what a brilliant idea. The law says the doctor has to explain it with the patient in the room. There’s nothing that says the patient has to listen.
Great, great, great, the best.
FUCK YES DO EET
Yup, I’m reposting the exact same thing I posted yesterday….
For all the moments of despair we feel in battle over reproductive rights, donating to an abortion fund is a concrete way to help actual people in moments of true crisis.
And all it takes is $5 to help someone who has no where else to turn.
Please donate if you can. Your money WILL make a real difference.
My bowl-a-thon effort goes to the Lilith Fund here in Texas, a state that needs all the help it can get when it comes to reproductive rights and health care. Even though Lilith Fund gave out the most money ever last year ($78,000), they could only help 25% of people who called needing financial assistance to get an abortion. They had to tell 75% of the people who called them asking for help that they could not do anything for them. That is tragic.
And if you want to donate to a fund closer to your home, check out the long list of funds participating in this year’s event.
Seriously, if 1/2 the people who follow just this blog donated $5/piece, that would be $7,500, nearly 10% of Lilith Fund’s total budget last year.
Maybe as individuals we can’t save the world but together, in small pieces, we can get damn close.
Inconvenience? You hear that people capable of getting pregnant? This is all merely an inconvenience:
Normal, frequent or expectable temporary side effects of pregnancy:
- exhaustion (weariness common from first weeks)
- altered appetite and senses of taste and smell
- nausea and vomiting (50% of women, first trimester)
- heartburn and indigestion
- weight gain
- dizziness and light-headedness
- bloating, swelling, fluid retention
- abdominal cramps
- yeast infections
- congested, bloody nose
- acne and mild skin disorders
- skin discoloration (chloasma, face and abdomen)
- mild to severe backache and strain
- increased headaches
- difficulty sleeping, and discomfort while sleeping
- increased urination and incontinence
- bleeding gums
- breast pain and discharge
- swelling of joints, leg cramps, joint pain
- difficulty sitting, standing in later pregnancy
- inability to take regular medications
- shortness of breath
- higher blood pressure
- hair loss
- tendency to anemia
- curtailment of ability to participate in some sports and activities
- infection including from serious and potentially fatal disease
(pregnant women are immune suppressed compared with non-pregnant women, and
are more susceptible to fungal and certain other diseases)
- extreme pain on delivery
- hormonal mood changes, including normal post-partum depression
- continued post-partum exhaustion and recovery period (exacerbated if a c-section — major surgery — is required, sometimes taking up to a full year to fully recover)
Normal, expectable, or frequent PERMANENT side effects of pregnancy:
- stretch marks (worse in younger women)
- loose skin
- permanent weight gain or redistribution
- abdominal and vaginal muscle weakness
- pelvic floor disorder (occurring in as many as 35% of middle-aged former child-bearers and 50% of elderly former child-bearers, associated with urinary and rectal incontinence, discomfort and reduced quality of life)
- changes to breasts
- varicose veins
- scarring from episiotomy or c-section
- other permanent aesthetic changes to the body (all of these are downplayed by women, because the culture values youth and beauty)
- increased proclivity for hemmorhoids
- loss of dental and bone calcium (cavities and osteoporosis)
Occasional complications and side effects:
- spousal/partner abuse
- hyperemesis gravidarum
- temporary and permanent injury to back
- severe scarring requiring later surgery (especially after additional pregnancies)
- dropped (prolapsed) uterus (especially after additional pregnancies, and other pelvic floor weaknesses — 11% of women, including cystocele, rectocele, and enterocele)
- pre-eclampsia (edema and hypertension, the most common complication of pregnancy, associated with eclampsia, and affecting 7 - 10% of pregnancies)
- eclampsia (convulsions, coma during pregnancy or labor, high risk of death)
- gestational diabetes
- placenta previa
- anemia (which can be life-threatening)
- thrombocytopenic purpura
- severe cramping
- embolism (blood clots)
- medical disability requiring full bed rest (frequently ordered during part of many pregnancies varying from days to months for health of either mother or baby)
- diastasis recti, also torn abdominal muscles
- mitral valve stenosis (most common cardiac complication)
- serious infection and disease (e.g. increased risk of tuberculosis)
- hormonal imbalance
- ectopic pregnancy (risk of death)
- broken bones (ribcage, “tail bone”)
- hemorrhage and
- numerous other complications of delivery
- refractory gastroesophageal reflux disease
- aggravation of pre-pregnancy diseases and conditions (e.g. epilepsy is present in .5% of pregnant women, and the pregnancy alters drug metabolism and treatment prospects all the while it increases the number and frequency of seizures)
- severe post-partum depression and psychosis
- research now indicates a possible link between ovarian cancer and female fertility treatments, including “egg harvesting” from infertile women and donors
- research also now indicates correlations between lower breast cancer survival rates and proximity in time to onset of cancer of last pregnancy
- research also indicates a correlation between having six or more pregnancies and a risk of coronary and cardiovascular disease
Less common (but serious) complications:
- peripartum cardiomyopathy
- cardiopulmonary arrest
- magnesium toxicity
- severe hypoxemia/acidosis
- massive embolism
- increased intracranial pressure, brainstem infarction
- molar pregnancy, gestational trophoblastic disease (like a pregnancy-induced cancer)
- malignant arrhythmia
- circulatory collapse
- placental abruption
- obstetric fistula
More permanent side effects:
- future infertility
- permanent disability
In addition, there’s the risk of losing one’s job and, by extension, home; pregnancy/childbirth triggering traumatic experiences due to rape, molestation, or partner/spousal abuse; body or gender dysphoria; missing or dropping out of school; the potential trauma of choosing adoption; suffering from pregnancy related job discrimination; the economic toll of pregnancy and raising a child; and not being able to continue taking important medications or exacerbating pre-existing conditions.
Here’s some statistics:
- 358,000 people die annually from pregnancy related complications.
- 20% of people who die during pregnancy are murder victims.
- The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescents under 15 years old.
- Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among adolescents in most developing countries.
- A person’s lifetime risk of maternal death – the probability that a 15-year-old will eventually die from a maternal cause – is 1 in 4300 in developed countries, versus 1 in 120 in developing countries.
- A pregnant person has a 35.6% greater risk of being a victim of violence than a non-pregnant person. The estimated prevalence of violence against people during pregnancy ranges from four percent to eight percent.
- 40% of all pregnant people have some complications during pregnancy or childbirth. About 15% have complications that are potentially life-threatening.
Tl;dr So in case that wasn’t clear: pregnancy is always life threatening and never merely an “inconvenience”.
A biologist weighs in on the Mississippi “personhood bill”
Let me first state my opinion as a biologist. Human life does not “begin”, it is transmitted. Human personhood is not a biological concept: it is the state of being a human being for legal and moral purposes. Laws and morality need a clear line between “person” and “not a person”, biology does not care. We may need to pick a line, but that’s something *we* are doing, it is not dictated by “biological facts”.
Normally a large proportion, probably a majority, of human zygotes fail to implant or are miscarried. The proportion that die due to abortion is only a fraction of the total death rate you are contemplating.
Meanwhile, I know a Mississippian who may become a refugee if the Amendment passes. She takes birth control pills to keep from bleeding into anemia every month, and if BCPs become illegal or unavailable in Mississippi she’ll probably have to leave. How thoughtful and life-respecting of her fellow citizens.
Yeah, ^^this is a really fucking relevant thing, that birth control is NOT only used for stopping pregnancy. PCOS is another example (out of whack hormones cause painful cysts on a woman’s ovaries, horrible periods, infertility, etc), I know several people who use/have used hormonal birth control to manage PCOS symptoms, and it can actually protect the fertility of women with PCOS if it’s started early enough.
Not that this is an especially original argument on the subject of abortion, but it’s one I don’t see repeated often and it’s the one that I find most convincing: Suppose we grant that the fetus is a person. Suppose we take any person, we’ll make him a Nobel Prize winner, brilliant contributor to society and plenty more to offer the world, and give him this drastic obscure disease and the only cure is he needs your kidney - only yours, nobody else will work (or perhaps they don’t have the time to find someone else.) There’s no question this person deserves to live, has a right to life protected by law, etc. This does not, however, give him a right to your kidney. You have rights too, and however kind and wonderful it would be for you to donate it to him, to risk your health, to spend months recovering, etc etc, there is no law and no moral system that says you are required to give him your kidney. His right to life doesn’t trump your right to your bodily integrity.
Ok. So, a fetus is a person, too. A hypothetical fetus would need my organs to survive. There is no one else’s organs that can serve this function. There’s no question the fetus hasn’t done anything wrong, deserves to live, has a right to life, etc. But, just like the Nobel Prize winner, the fetus does not have a right to life at the expense of my bodily integrity. It doesn’t have the right to use my organs to survive against my will. No person does.
(For people who would argue that abortion is killing and not donating a kidney is letting die - quit kidding yourself. The result is the same and I am very convinced that no useful moral distinction can be made between the two.)
It would be awfully nice of me to inconvenience myself and let an unwanted fetus use my body to survive, but unless we’re going to argue that a fetus has special rights that supersede my own (hint: it doesn’t), its rights don’t supersede mine and if I don’t want it in my uterus, it doesn’t get to stay.