The proportion of medication abortions in the U.S. rose to over 60 percent in 2023 after access to surgical abortions fell dramatically following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade had repealed it, according to a report on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to strike down abortion rights allowed more than a dozen states to ban abortions with limited exceptions and close clinics, limiting access to surgical abortion procedures.

This, in turn, has led to increasing reliance on a two-pill regimen to terminate pregnancies, with the number of abortions administered by pill in the U.S. increasing by 10 percent since 2020, according to the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights advocacy group.

The institute’s report is published every three years and is based on data collected from U.S. abortion providers.

The survey found that the U.S. health care system performed a total of over 1 million abortions in 2023, the first time that number exceeded one million since 2012.

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“As abortion restrictions increase post-Dobbs, medication abortion may be the most viable — or only — option for some people, even if they would have preferred in-person care,” Guttmacher senior researcher Rachel Jones said in the Supreme Court case overruled the 1973 precedent Roe v. Wade.

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However, access to medication abortion is also at stake.

Click here to play video: “US Supreme Court Retains Access to Abortion Pills – For Now”

The US Supreme Court is reserving access to abortion pills – for now

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on March 26 in President Joe Biden’s administration’s attempt to maintain broad access to mifepristone, part of the two-pill regimen approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 2000 approved termination of early pregnancies.

The method involves taking two medications over the course of one or two days. The first, mifepristone, blocks the pregnancy-maintaining hormone progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, triggers uterine contractions.

The New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August to reinstate restrictions on the supply and distribution of mifepristone, which the FDA had eased to ease access during the COVID-19 pandemic. This decision will be put on hold until the Supreme Court intervenes.

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The FDA claims the drug is safe and effective, noting that it was used by millions of American women for decades and had extremely rare side effects.

The Guttmacher survey found that the increase in overall abortions in 2023 was concentrated in states where abortion remains legal and that border states that have banned abortions.

The survey likely undercounted the number of abortions in the U.S. because it did not include abortions performed outside the formal U.S. health care system, such as with pills shipped from abroad.

— Edited by Paul Thomasch and Nia Williams

&Copy 2024 Thomson Reuters

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