Boxes of the drug mifepristone, used to induce a medical abortion, are prepared for patients at the Planned Parenthood Health Center in Birmingham, Alabama March 14, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein Reuters
The abortion pill is the most common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC found in a report released Wednesday that about 51% of birth control pill abortions in 2020 were performed at or before the ninth week of pregnancy. From 2019 to 2020, birth control pill abortions increased by 22%, according to the report.
The pill mifepristone has become a focal point in the fight for reproductive rights following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap federal abortion laws in June. Twelve states have since banned abortion, but banning the pill is difficult because it’s more readily available.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration has suspended the requirement that women receive mifepristone in person, allowing them to get the pill through the mail and at retail pharmacies. The Medicines Agency announced in December 2021 that it would make this change permanent.
Anti-abortion groups last week asked a Texas federal court to overturn the FDA’s more than two-decade-old approval of mifepristone. The groups’ attorneys are from the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization involved in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which led the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Late. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and eight other senators wrote a letter last week calling on the FDA to expand access to mifepristone by approving its use to treat miscarriage. This would increase women’s access to the pill in states that restrict access, the senators wrote.
The FDA has approved mifepristone in combination with the tablet misoprostol as a method of terminating pregnancy before the 10th week. Mifepristone prevents the pregnancy from continuing and misoprostol causes contractions that empty the uterus. The method is 96% to 98% effective in terminating early pregnancies.
The abortion pill has become an increasingly common method of terminating a pregnancy in the United States. According to CDC data, birth control pill abortions increased 154% from 2011 to 2020.
More than 620,000 abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2020, a 15% decrease since 2011. Almost all abortions, 93%, are performed at or before 13 weeks gestation, and 80% are performed at or before 9 weeks, correspondingly to the CDC data.
Surgical abortion is the second most common method used to terminate a pregnancy. About 40% of all abortions were performed with surgical procedures at or before this 13th week of pregnancy, according to the CDC.