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Policy Development

Medical Abortion in the United States: Politics, Access and Options
By S.M. Harvey, C.A. Sherman, S.T. Bird & J. Warren
January 2003

Editors' Note

We are pleased to reprint part of a recent policy monograph about medical abortion in the United States published by the Center for the Study of Women in Society for the University of Oregon*. Medical abortion involves the use of a drug or combination of drugs to terminate early pregnancy. The two methods of medical abortion currently available in the United States are Mifepristone (brand name MifeprexTM) and Methotrexate (brand name Folex®). Both are used together with a third drug, Misoprostol (brand name Cytotec®) to induce abortion. Both have been shown to be safe and effective in termination of early pregnancy. As the excerpts from the monograph illustrate, medical abortion has the potential to increase access to abortion services and provide more options to women. Both of these potential outcomes can enhance women's mental health. The paper considers psychological issues such as the acceptability of medical abortion to women and their providers, the negative psychological impact of antiabortion harassment that might be alleviated through provision of medical abortion, the importance of providing options appropriate to women's personal circumstances and finally, the role of sociopolitical forces in obstructing the use of medical abortion. Recommendations for overcoming barriers to access to medical abortion in the United States are included in the last section of the monograph, which can be obtained from the Center.

This item will be available for download as a PDF file on the

* Harvey, S. M., Sherman, C. A., Bird, S. T., & Warren, J. (2002). Understanding medical abortion: Policy, politics and women's health. Eugene, OR: Center for the Study of Women in Society, University of Oregon.

For a copy of the monograph contact:
Center for the Study of Women in Society
1201 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1201
(541) 346-5015

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