Future of the fight: Medication access

Despite lawmakers’ best efforts, California is not impervious to all abortion challenges. A federal court case challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion pill mifepristone would prevent doctors across the country from prescribing the medication if it is pulled from the market. The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay while the case moves through the legal system after a lightning round of conflicting orders from the lower courts caused the medication to ricochet on and off the market.

The court case is ongoing.

“The reality is we’re not immune,” Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President Jodi Hicks said ahead of the Supreme Court’s actions.

Mifepristone is the first of a two-drug regimen used for medication abortions. It blocks the pregnancy hormone progesterone and is also used to manage miscarriages. Most abortions in the U.S. and California are medication abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research and policy center.  Although California does not collect abortion data, Guttmacher conducts a survey of all abortion providers in the U.S. every three years. 

If mifepristone is pulled from the market, medication abortion would still be legal in California, but doctors and patients would have to rely solely on the second pill in the regimen, misoprostol. Misoprostol causes contractions to empty the uterus and is safe to use alone, but it takes longer and there can be more complications, like prolonged bleeding.

In April, Newsom announced the state purchased 250,000 misoprostol pills and could increase the order to 2 million.

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