Get Real! Is It Really Illegal to Sell Me Condoms?

Heather Corinna

In the United States, all 50 of them, minors may purchase condoms just like legal adults can. So why was she denied access?

ADistantPlanet Asks:

This may be a bit of a strange question, but my attempts at researching
this question have yielded very few results. I’m 16 years old, and the
other day, I went into a gas station near my home in Michigan to buy
some condoms. I’m on the Pill, but I use condoms every time with my
boyfriend due to my paranoia of pregnancy. When I brought the condoms
to the counter, the woman behind it informed me that there is a law
that forbids the selling of condoms to those under 18. This didn’t
really sound plausible to me, considering that the age of consent in
Michigan is 16 and it would be rather counterproductive to ban condoms
for 2 years, however, the woman vehemently refused to sell them to me.
Is there any sort of law (in Michigan or a national law) that forbids
stores from selling condoms (or pregnancy tests, etc.) to minors?

Heather Replies: It’s not a strange question, but it certainly is an infuriating issue.

That woman was either dishonest with you or unknowingly mistaken. In the United States, all 50 of them, minors may purchase condoms just like legal adults can. That also includes minors who are not above a given state’s age of consent.

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Some states have some policies or proposals that limit contraceptive services or prescriptions for minors in certain ways (though those policies cannot be applied to services through Title X clinics or Medicaid), but purchase of over-the-counter methods like condoms or spermicides are not part of those laws or legal policies.

Legally, full access to condoms and other contraceptives regardless of age or marital status was first established in 1972 with the famous case Eisenstadt v. Baird (Baird being William R. Baird, Jr., one of the most amazing contraception activists ever). Before then, methods of contraception were not lawful for unmarried couples of any age. But that Supreme Court case ruling established the right of unmarried people to possess contraception on the same basis as married couples. Later on, in 1977, with Carey v. Population Services International, it was made very clear that included unmarried minors, not just adults. The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution is something else that backs up your rights here.

However, gas stations and other stores are private entities, and can reserve the right to refuse service to anyone at all, often on any basis. Some will even have signs posted on the doors that say as much. So, while it would not have been unlawful for her to sell condoms to you, she clearly — or the store she works for — did not want to, based on either that store’s policies, her own ignorance or a personal agenda. And because a store is a private entity who can often refuse to serve anyone (though people refused service based in discrimination certainly can file suit against such parties), if the store is on board with what she did, there may be little you could have done right there and then to get those condoms.

This happens to minors all too often. In addition, some drugstore chains or independent stores keep condoms locked up behind a counter, where a person has to ask for them, which is yet another barrier to access for many young people. What you and I know they are all doing, is endangering the health of young people (which is also endangering the health of everyone, when it all comes down to it), on top of treating young people with some seriously profound disrespect and age discrimination.

For many teens, not being able to get condoms does not mean that person or their partner will elect not to engage in the sexual activity they were going to with condoms. It just makes it far more likely they will do so without using condoms. For some, not having condoms means being wide open to sexually transmitted infections. For others, that means not reducing those infection risks AND not reducing the risk of unwanted pregnancies. In fact, some of what I’m talking about here was stated by a couple of the Justices in the Carey Vs. Population Services International case:

MR. JUSTICE POWELL concluded that the prohibition against distribution of contraceptives to persons under 16 is defective both because it infringes the privacy interests of married females between the ages of 14 and 16 and because it prohibits parents from distributing contraceptives to their children, thus unjustifiably interfering with parental interests in rearing children.

MR. JUSTICE STEVENS concluded that the prohibition against distribution of contraceptives to persons under 16 denies such persons and their parents a choice which, if available, would reduce exposure to venereal disease or unwanted pregnancy, and that the prohibition cannot be justified as a means of discouraging sexual activity by minors.

You may have caught the irony that much of what those Justices said sounds very forward-thinking at this point in time, despite being said over thirty years ago. But I digress.

The fact that someone like you who is already using a reliable method of birth control, but looking to back up your protection and practice safer sex is not being supported in being that smart and safe just blows. By the way? Using condoms with a hormonal method doesn’t mean you’re being paranoid. These possible outcomes are very real, and doubling up is wise. Of course, for all that cashier knew, condoms were all you had to use, which makes her refusal particularly insidious.

When something like this happens, you have a few choices, depending on how proactive you want to be, and how comfortable you feel in the moment. Just know that while I think standing up for yourself and being proactive, I don’t think it should come before your personal safety. If your intuition tells you the best thing to do is just to walk out, by all means, that’s the best thing to do. You can always go back and take a stand later if you want to.

Even though this is done for now, in case you want to address it with the gas station, or in case it happens again to you or anyone else, I’ll tell you what I’d suggest. Knowing in advance how to deal with this is also really helpful to others should they find themselves in the same scenario, which, unfortunately, is not all that uncommon.

In this situation, the first thing I would have said is that no, it is not illegal or that, as you thought, you just don’t think that’s true. You can always ask someone who is telling you something is illegal to tell you what law they’re referencing, too. As in, "I don’t think that’s so: can you tell me what law you’re talking about?" If she still said it was, or still refused to sell you condoms, I’d have asked if I could speak with her supervisor. I’d have the same sort of conversation with them and see where it went. If they ask the cashier to sell them to you, then it’s done. If they said it was illegal, too, you could correct them and ask them what law they’re talking about. The fantasy moment would, of course, be to suddenly cite cases like Eisenstadt as they’d hardly be expecting that and would probably hand the condoms right over in a decent state of shock. For anyone reading this in advance of an event like this, you can live that dream. Obviously, though if they just say no to selling them to you full stop, no matter their explanation, you’re at the end of that particular line for right then.

If you still needed the condoms, you’d have to make another stop somewhere, and while it’s not okay for you to have to go all over to try and get them, you probably can find somewhere else to buy or get them.

Perhaps even more obviously, if there were just no condoms to be had that night, you could just opt out of the kinds of sex for then where you wanted or needed condoms.

The thing is, no one should have to make their sexual choices based on someone else’s bias or discrimination. There are a lot of sound, fair criteria to make our sexual choices with, but this isn’t one of them. So, I’d like to pitch a few other ideas to you.

This particular evening is past, but you still could return to that gas station of you wanted and initiate one of those conversations with the cashier or her supervisor. There is also some other activism you could do around this, especially if you don’t get a satisfactory response from the manager or owner of that station. You could write a letter to the head of the chain or to your city’s leaders, referencing the address of this particular station and let them know what occurred there, filling them in with some research on the actual law (or lack thereof, in this case) and comments about why both denying young people condoms and giving them the idea they can’t access them legally both puts teens in potential danger and also stomps on your constitutional rights. You could make a small printout of these case laws and distribute them to all the other teens you know so they have them handy. An op-ed letter to your school or local newspaper is another option. Yet more would be to have an in-person sit-in at that gas station with your peers and adult allies, or to arrange for a whole bunch of teens to keep going in and trying to buy condoms, educating anyone who works there or comes into the station during these actions about what’s going on. Organizing a boycott is one more possibility. These kinds of civil disobedience are very effective ways to forge change.

One thing to remember is that one of the ways adults figure they can get away with discriminating against youth is that they assume you won’t advocate for yourselves or assume they know everything better than you do (and that you buy into that, without question). Many think that teens aren’t informed and will just meekly walk away, or just do something they can easily write off like flipping them off or walk away calling them a name. I’d encourage you not to let them get off that easy. I personally think one important thing young people have to offer all of us is telling adults who are being adultist where to stick it. When teens and young people aren’t doing that, I feel like the world is out of balance: your voice is important and needed.

Sometimes teens do know better than adults and you’re also actually supposed to be rebellious: there’s a lot of great cultural precedent for that through history, and differentiating yourself from adults is an important part of your development. It gets tougher to rebel as you get older, so now’s also a great time to do it. Plus, if you’re going to rebel? Fighting for a civil rights issue beats sleeping with a creep your parents don’t like — for good reason — or drinking yourself sick, and the outcome of this kind of rebellion is also likely to be a lot more positive. If you need an extra nudge, Oscar Wilde (and do excuse his oversight in gendering this otherwise perfect string of words) had a good one when he said:

Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.

Obviously, what, if anything, you do around this is going to depend on you, but this kind of event — which may seem small in some ways, but which really isn’t, when it all comes down to it — is often how great activists get started: it’s personal, you know it’s going to impact more than just you, and it’s an important civil rights and public health issue. As a lifelong activist and advocate myself, I’d encourage you to at least consider taking some kind of action around this. It may not only result in better condom access for you and everyone else you know, it might turn a situation which really sucked into something very powerful and positive for you and other young people in your area.

Just so you’re aware, this one gas station doing this is craptastic, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get condoms elsewhere. Many clinics, including Planned Parenthood clinics, provide condoms for free which you can get just by walking in: you don’t even have to be a patient of theirs or pay for any services. Many pharmacies and megastores also should not present problems in your getting condoms. You can also order condoms online via many different suppliers.

Usually, when I provide links at the end of an answer, they’re to other articles on Scarleteen. But instead, I want to link you up with a few good avenues for this kind of activism.  They are good places where you can put your righteous indignation to very good use if you’ve the desire to. But by all means, get the condoms you need first. :)

* Amplify’s Create Your Own Action Alert

* The ACLU’s Youth Activism Area

* Advocates for Youth

* NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force

* Planned Parenthood’s Youth Initiative Program

* GLSEN Student Organizing

Analysis Law and Policy

Indiana Court of Appeals Tosses Patel Feticide Conviction, Still Defers to Junk Science

Jessica Mason Pieklo

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled patients cannot be prosecuted for self-inducing an abortion under the feticide statute, but left open the possibility other criminal charges could apply.

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Friday vacated the feticide conviction of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who faced 20 years in prison for what state attorneys argued was a self-induced abortion. The good news is the court decided Patel and others in the state could not be charged and convicted for feticide after experiencing failed pregnancies. The bad news is that the court still deferred to junk science at trial that claimed Patel’s fetus was on the cusp of viability and had taken a breath outside the womb, and largely upheld Patel’s conviction of felony neglect of a dependent. This leaves the door open for similar prosecutions in the state in the future.

As Rewire previously reported, “In July 2013 … Purvi Patel sought treatment at a hospital emergency room for heavy vaginal bleeding, telling doctors she’d had a miscarriage. That set off a chain of events, which eventually led to a jury convicting Patel of one count of feticide and one count of felony neglect of a dependent in February 2015.”

To charge Patel with feticide under Indiana’s law, the state at trial was required to prove she “knowingly or intentionally” terminated her pregnancy “with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.”

According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, attorneys for the State of Indiana failed to show the legislature had originally passed the feticide statute with the intention of criminally charging patients like Patel for terminating their own pregnancies. Patel’s case, the court said, marked an “abrupt departure” from the normal course of prosecutions under the statute.

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“This is the first case that we are aware of in which the State has used the feticide statute to prosecute a pregnant woman (or anyone else) for performing an illegal abortion, as that term is commonly understood,” the decision reads. “[T]he wording of the statute as a whole indicate[s] that the legislature intended for any criminal liability to be imposed on medical personnel, not on women who perform their own abortions,” the court continued.

“[W]e conclude that the legislature never intended the feticide statute to apply to pregnant women in the first place,” it said.

This is an important holding, because Patel was not actually the first woman Indiana prosecutors tried to jail for a failed pregnancy outcome. In 2011, state prosecutors brought an attempted feticide charge against Bei Bei Shuai, a pregnant Chinese woman suffering from depression who tried to commit suicide. She survived, but the fetus did not.

Shuai was held in prison for a year until a plea agreement was reached in her case.

The Indiana Court of Appeals did not throw out Patel’s conviction entirely, though. Instead, it vacated Patel’s second charge of Class A felony conviction of neglect of a dependent, ruling Patel should have been charged and convicted of a lower Class D felony. The court remanded the case back to the trial court with instructions to enter judgment against Patel for conviction of a Class D felony neglect of a dependent, and to re-sentence Patel accordingly to that drop in classification.

A Class D felony conviction in Indiana carries with it a sentence of six months to three years.

To support Patel’s second charge of felony neglect at trial, prosecutors needed to show that Patel took abortifacients; that she delivered a viable fetus; that said viable fetus was, in fact, born alive; and that Patel abandoned the fetus. According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state got close, but not all the way, to meeting this burden.

According to the Indiana Court of Appeals, the state had presented enough evidence to establish “that the baby took at least one breath and that its heart was beating after delivery and continued to beat until all of its blood had drained out of its body.”

Therefore, the Court of Appeals concluded, it was reasonable for the jury to infer that Patel knowingly neglected the fetus after delivery by failing to provide medical care after its birth. The remaining question, according to the court, was what degree of a felony Patel should have been charged with and convicted of.

That is where the State of Indiana fell short on its neglect of a dependent conviction, the court said. Attorneys had failed to sufficiently show that any medical care Patel could have provided would have resulted in the fetus surviving after birth. Without that evidence, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded, state attorneys could not support a Class A conviction. The evidence they presented, though, could support a Class D felony conviction, the court said.

In other words, the Indiana Court of Appeals told prosecutors in the state, make sure your medical experts offer more specific testimony next time you bring a charge like the one at issue in Patel’s case.

The decision is a mixed win for reproductive rights and justice advocates. The ruling from the court that the feticide statute cannot be used to prosecute patients for terminating their own pregnancy is an important victory, especially in a state that has sought not just to curb access to abortion, but to eradicate family planning and reproductive health services almost entirely. Friday’s decision made it clear to prosecutors that they cannot rely on the state’s feticide statute to punish patients who turn to desperate measures to end their pregnancies. This is a critical pushback against the full-scale erosion of reproductive rights and autonomy in the state.

But the fact remains that at both trial and appeal, the court and jury largely accepted the conclusions of the state’s medical experts that Patel delivered a live baby that, at least for a moment, was capable of survival outside the womb. And that is troubling. The state’s experts offered these conclusions, despite existing contradictions on key points of evidence such as the gestational age of the fetus—and thus if it was viable—and whether or not the fetus displayed evidence of life when it was born.

Patel’s attorneys tried, unsuccessfully, to rebut those conclusions. For example, the state’s medical expert used the “lung float test,” also known as the hydrostatic test, to conclude Patel’s fetus had taken a breath outside the womb. The test, developed in the 17th century, posits that if a fetus’ lungs are removed and placed in a container of liquid and the lungs float, it means the fetus drew at least one breath of air before dying. If the lungs sink, the theory holds, the fetus did not take a breath.

Not surprisingly, medical forensics has advanced since the 17th century, and medical researchers widely question the hydrostatic test’s reliability. Yet this is the only medical evidence the state presented of live birth.

Ultimately, the fact that the jury decided to accept the conclusions of the state’s experts over Patel’s is itself not shocking. Weighing the evidence and coming to a conclusion of guilt or innocence based on that evidence is what juries do. But it does suggest that when women of color are dragged before a court for a failed pregnancy, they will rarely, if ever, get the benefit of the doubt.

The jurors could have just as easily believed the evidence put forward by Patel’s attorneys that gestational age, and thus viability, was in doubt, but they didn’t. The jurors could have just as easily concluded the state’s medical testimony that the fetus took “at least one breath” was not sufficient to support convicting Patel of a felony and sending her to prison for 20 years. But they didn’t.

Why was the State of Indiana so intent on criminally prosecuting Patel, despite the many glaring weaknesses in the case against her? Why were the jurors so willing to take the State of Indiana’s word over Patel’s when presented with those weaknesses? And why did it take them less than five hours to convict her?

Patel was ordered in March to serve 20 years in prison for her conviction. Friday’s decision upends that; Patel now faces a sentence of six months to three years. She’s been in jail serving her 20 year sentence since February 2015 while her appeal moved forward. If there’s real justice in this case, Patel will be released immediately.

Analysis Politics

The 2016 Republican Platform Is Riddled With Conservative Abortion Myths

Ally Boguhn

Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the Republican platform, which relies on a series of falsehoods about reproductive health care.

Republicans voted to ratify their 2016 platform this week, codifying what many deem one of the most extreme platforms ever accepted by the party.

“Platforms are traditionally written by and for the party faithful and largely ignored by everyone else,” wrote the New York Times‘ editorial board Monday. “But this year, the Republicans are putting out an agenda that demands notice.”

“It is as though, rather than trying to reconcile Mr. Trump’s heretical views with conservative orthodoxy, the writers of the platform simply opted to go with the most extreme version of every position,” it continued. “Tailored to Mr. Trump’s impulsive bluster, this document lays bare just how much the G.O.P. is driven by a regressive, extremist inner core.”

Tucked away in the 66-page document accepted by Republicans as their official guide to “the Party’s principles and policies” are countless resolutions that seem to back up the Times‘ assertion that the platform is “the most extreme” ever put forth by the party, including: rolling back marriage equalitydeclaring pornography a “public health crisis”; and codifying the Hyde Amendment to permanently block federal funding for abortion.

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Anti-choice activists and leaders have embraced the platform, which the Susan B. Anthony List deemed the “Most Pro-life Platform Ever” in a press release upon the GOP’s Monday vote at the convention. “The Republican platform has always been strong when it comes to protecting unborn children, their mothers, and the conscience rights of pro-life Americans,” said the organization’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, in a statement. “The platform ratified today takes that stand from good to great.”  

Operation Rescue, an organization known for its radical tactics and links to violence, similarly declared the platform a “victory,” noting its inclusion of so-called personhood language, which could ban abortion and many forms of contraception. “We are celebrating today on the streets of Cleveland. We got everything we have asked for in the party platform,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement posted to the group’s website.

But what stands out most in the Republicans’ document is the series of falsehoods and myths relied upon to push their conservative agenda. Here are just a few of the most egregious pieces of misinformation about abortion to be found within the pages of the 2016 platform:

Myth #1: Planned Parenthood Profits From Fetal Tissue Donations

Featured in multiple sections of the Republican platform is the tired and repeatedly debunked claim that Planned Parenthood profits from fetal tissue donations. In the subsection on “protecting human life,” the platform says:

We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare. We urge all states and Congress to make it a crime to acquire, transfer, or sell fetal tissues from elective abortions for research, and we call on Congress to enact a ban on any sale of fetal body parts. In the meantime, we call on Congress to ban the practice of misleading women on so-called fetal harvesting consent forms, a fact revealed by a 2015 investigation. We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.

Later in the document, under a section titled “Preserving Medicare and Medicaid,” the platform again asserts that abortion providers are selling “the body parts of aborted children”—presumably again referring to the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood:

We respect the states’ authority and flexibility to exclude abortion providers from federal programs such as Medicaid and other healthcare and family planning programs so long as they continue to perform or refer for elective abortions or sell the body parts of aborted children.

The platform appears to reference the widely discredited videos produced by anti-choice organization Center for Medical Progress (CMP) as part of its smear campaign against Planned Parenthood. The videos were deceptively edited, as Rewire has extensively reported. CMP’s leader David Daleiden is currently under federal indictment for tampering with government documents in connection with obtaining the footage. Republicans have nonetheless steadfastly clung to the group’s claims in an effort to block access to reproductive health care.

Since CMP began releasing its videos last year, 13 state and three congressional inquiries into allegations based on the videos have turned up no evidence of wrongdoing on behalf of Planned Parenthood.

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund—which has endorsed Hillary Clinton—called the Republicans’ inclusion of CMP’s allegation in their platform “despicable” in a statement to the Huffington Post. “This isn’t just an attack on Planned Parenthood health centers,” said Laguens. “It’s an attack on the millions of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood each year for basic health care. It’s an attack on the brave doctors and nurses who have been facing down violent rhetoric and threats just to provide people with cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams.”

Myth #2: The Supreme Court Struck Down “Commonsense” Laws About “Basic Health and Safety” in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In the section focusing on the party’s opposition to abortion, the GOP’s platform also reaffirms their commitment to targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) laws. According to the platform:

We salute the many states that now protect women and girls through laws requiring informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods, and clinic regulation. We condemn the Supreme Court’s activist decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt striking down commonsense Texas laws providing for basic health and safety standards in abortion clinics.

The idea that TRAP laws, such as those struck down by the recent Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health, are solely for protecting women and keeping them safe is just as common among conservatives as it is false. However, as Rewire explained when Paul Ryan agreed with a nearly identical claim last week about Texas’ clinic regulations, “the provisions of the law in question were not about keeping anybody safe”:

As Justice Stephen Breyer noted in the opinion declaring them unconstitutional, “When directly asked at oral argument whether Texas knew of a single instance in which the new requirement would have helped even one woman obtain better treatment, Texas admitted that there was no evidence in the record of such a case.”

All the provisions actually did, according to Breyer on behalf of the Court majority, was put “a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking a previability abortion,” and “constitute an undue burden on abortion access.”

Myth #3: 20-Week Abortion Bans Are Justified By “Current Medical Research” Suggesting That Is When a Fetus Can Feel Pain

The platform went on to point to Republicans’ Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, a piece of anti-choice legislation already passed in several states that, if approved in Congress, would create a federal ban on abortion after 20 weeks based on junk science claiming fetuses can feel pain at that point in pregnancy:

Over a dozen states have passed Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Acts prohibiting abortion after twenty weeks, the point at which current medical research shows that unborn babies can feel excruciating pain during abortions, and we call on Congress to enact the federal version.

Major medical groups and experts, however, agree that a fetus has not developed to the point where it can feel pain until the third trimester. According to a 2013 letter from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “A rigorous 2005 scientific review of evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concluded that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” which begins around the 28th week of pregnancy. A 2010 review of the scientific evidence on the issue conducted by the British Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists similarly found “that the fetus cannot experience pain in any sense prior” to 24 weeks’ gestation.

Doctors who testify otherwise often have a history of anti-choice activism. For example, a letter read aloud during a debate over West Virginia’s ultimately failed 20-week abortion ban was drafted by Dr. Byron Calhoun, who was caught lying about the number of abortion-related complications he saw in Charleston.

Myth #4: Abortion “Endangers the Health and Well-being of Women”

In an apparent effort to criticize the Affordable Care Act for promoting “the notion of abortion as healthcare,” the platform baselessly claimed that abortion “endangers the health and well-being” of those who receive care:

Through Obamacare, the current Administration has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare. We, however, affirm the dignity of women by protecting the sanctity of human life. Numerous studies have shown that abortion endangers the health and well-being of women, and we stand firmly against it.

Scientific evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that abortion is safe. Research shows that a first-trimester abortion carries less than 0.05 percent risk of major complications, according to the Guttmacher Institute, and “pose[s] virtually no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.”

There is similarly no evidence to back up the GOP’s claim that abortion endangers the well-being of women. A 2008 study from the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, an expansive analysis on current research regarding the issue, found that while those who have an abortion may experience a variety of feelings, “no evidence sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

As is the case for many of the anti-abortion myths perpetuated within the platform, many of the so-called experts who claim there is a link between abortion and mental illness are discredited anti-choice activists.

Myth #5: Mifepristone, a Drug Used for Medical Abortions, Is “Dangerous”

Both anti-choice activists and conservative Republicans have been vocal opponents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA’s) March update to the regulations for mifepristone, a drug also known as Mifeprex and RU-486 that is used in medication abortions. However, in this year’s platform, the GOP goes a step further to claim that both the drug and its general approval by the FDA are “dangerous”:

We believe the FDA’s approval of Mifeprex, a dangerous abortifacient formerly known as RU-486, threatens women’s health, as does the agency’s endorsement of over-the-counter sales of powerful contraceptives without a physician’s recommendation. We support cutting federal and state funding for entities that endanger women’s health by performing abortions in a manner inconsistent with federal or state law.

Studies, however, have overwhelmingly found mifepristone to be safe. In fact, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals says mifepristone “is safer than acetaminophen,” aspirin, and Viagra. When the FDA conducted a 2011 post-market study of those who have used the drug since it was approved by the agency, they found that more than 1.5 million women in the U.S. had used it to end a pregnancy, only 2,200 of whom had experienced an “adverse event” after.

The platform also appears to reference the FDA’s approval of making emergency contraception such as Plan B available over the counter, claiming that it too is a threat to women’s health. However, studies show that emergency contraception is safe and effective at preventing pregnancy. According to the World Health Organization, side effects are “uncommon and generally mild.”