March 2024 | View as Webpage
March 2024 | This week, we heard Supreme Court oral arguments for the most important case on abortion since the Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Filed on behalf of anti-abortion organizations, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA aims to roll back the FDA’s 2016 and 2021 decisions to modify its regulation of mifepristone—one of two drugs used for medication abortion. ANSIRH experts are at the frontline defending the science. Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, appeared on PBS NewsHour to discuss the latest research on telehealth medication abortion and Daniel Grossman, MD, spoke to CNN about how a ruling in favor of the plaintiff could undermine the FDA's authority.

A reversal of scientific progress would without a doubt impact access to medication abortion, effectively eliminating pharmacy dispensing of mifepristone, including by mail-order pharmacies, and telehealth care. In the lead-up to a decision from the Supreme Court, our experts are making sure the Court and the general public know that the FDA’s decisions to expand access to mifepristone have been supported by ample scientific evidence. We’ve studied medication abortion with mail-order pharmacy dispensing of mifepristone, and our results showed it was effective, feasible, and acceptable to patients. Our latest research with more than 6,000 people who received abortion pills via mail from online clinics showed that it was safe, effective, and highly satisfactory for patients

ANSIRH experts collaborated on an amicus brief with the Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy at UCLA School of Law, which was submitted on behalf of over 300 leading reproductive health researchers and reviews the evidence supporting the FDA's changes to its regulation of mifepristone. The brief urges the Court to not allow the politics of abortion to obscure the scientific record and harm public health. Concurrently, our researchers have led the charge in calling for journals to correct or retract faulty studies that have been used to justify anti-abortion policies and restrictions. Our efforts are clearly working: Sage Journals recently retracted three studies on abortion that were cited by anti-abortion plaintiffs in AHM v. FDA. Failures of scientific integrity have no place in public health policy, and we’ll continue to push to correct the scientific record. With your continued support, we can work to ensure high quality research is the only type of data informing policy and legal decisions, especially when it comes to medication abortion.

Our first newsletter of 2024 continues to outline ANSIRH’s latest contributions to reproductive health science. If you find this resource useful, please share widely with colleagues and friends.
Medication abortion can be delivered safely and effectively through telemedicine, study finds
New research from The California Home Abortion by Telehealth (CHAT) Study published in Nature Medicine demonstrates that claims against the effectiveness or safety of telehealth abortion are misleading, false, and not based in research. The research team, led by Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, analyzed data from more than 6,000 patients who obtained abortion pills from virtual clinics. Nearly 98% of patients had complete abortions without the need for additional intervention and less than one percent of patients experienced adverse events, rates similar to in-person care. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has become the new frontier in health care, including for medication abortion,” said Dr. Upadhyay. “A ruling against this method and the FDA’s rigorous scientific review process would be a huge setback for the American public and would make this essential health service harder to get.” Read our research.
Lead Turnaway Study researcher Diana Greene Foster delivers moving TED Talk
The Turnaway Study has resulted in more than 50 research articles, a lecture series, a book, a play, and now, a moving TED Talk presentation, recorded at the annual TEDWomen conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and viewed over half a million times. Using gold-standard research and stories from her own family, Diana Greene Foster, PhD, describes how being able to make one’s own decision about childbearing is crucial for the physical, mental, and economic wellbeing of pregnant people and their families. "The experiences of my grandmothers are consistent with The Turnaway Study, and also show us what to expect in this post-Dobbs world," said Dr. Foster. Watch Dr. Foster's TED Talk now.
In 2023, more TV plotlines than ever before depicted modern abortion restrictions, according to Abortion Onscreen report
This past year, television viewers tuned in for a range of relevant abortion storyline depictions, including the first in-depth plotline about self-managed abortion. ANSIRH investigators Steph Herold, MPH, and Gretchen Sisson, PhD, found that—of last year’s 49 abortion plotlines—a quarter depicted barriers to abortion access, fewer than in 2022 but still many more than in years prior. This year also brought more representation of medication abortion, with six plotlines compared to four each in 2022 and 2021. Two papers published by the Abortion Onscreen team and other ANSIRH researchers this year explored the possible impact of these depictions on audience knowledge and beliefs about abortion. Read the full 2023 report.
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