New Study on Medication Abortion Reaffirms Safety, Planned Parenthood Providers Urge Legislation Based on Science

New York, NY —(ENEWSPF)—January 26, 2015. A study released today by the journal Contraception adds to a large and growing body of evidence that that an evidence-based regimen for providing medication abortion is highly effective and very safe.  The study looked at outcomes of 13,000 women having medication abortion at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles health centers over a five-year period and found that evidence-based protocols for medication abortion are superior to the regimen used in the FDA trials leading up to the approval of mifepristone 15 years ago.

There are two kinds of abortion in the U.S. If a woman decides to have an abortion, it can be done in the health center by a provider, or at home by taking a pill (medication abortion).  Both methods are safe and effective.  In fact, data — including from the CDC — show that abortion has over a 99 percent safety record. Medication abortion gives a woman a noninvasive option to end a pregnancy, one that may feel more private, in a setting where she feels most comfortable. She is supported throughout the process by a medical professional.

“This study is the latest to show that legal abortion — and, specifically, an evidence-based protocol for medication abortion — is a safe and effective option for women,” said Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and associate medical director for research at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. “Planned Parenthood is continuously investigating new and innovative approaches to improving the health care we provide to women, men, and young people across the country.  Our patients receive high-quality health care based on rigorous research, the latest recommendations from medical associations, new technologies, and feedback from patients and experts.” 

“The way a medication is administered often evolves after the FDA has first approved it for use based on new medical research and professional experience. This is called evidence-based medicine and is how aspirin came to be used to prevent heart attacks, for example,” said Kelly Cleland, MPA, MPH, researcher in the Office of Population Research at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.  “This study’s findings build upon those from my 2013 study of more 230,000 women’s experiences with medication abortion at Planned Parenthood health centers, which found the process is exceedingly safe and effective.”

Despite current research, and guidelines from medical experts including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and Society of Family Planning saying that evidence-based protocols are superior, in recent years lawmakers have sought to restrict women’s access to safe and legal abortion by prohibiting evidence-based medicine when it comes to abortion.

“When it comes to a doctor’s ability to care for a patient using the most up-to-date medical research, politics should never trump science,” said Dr. Mary Gatter, medical director at Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley, the lead author on the paper. “Medicine is a constantly evolving field in which new technologies and new research lead to better treatments. This study is only the latest in a large and growing body of research proving that laws preventing health care providers from using the best, safest medical guidelines for medication abortion have no basis in science or medicine.”