Imagine being a sexually active woman in Mississippi. You realize that your period is a few days late, and buy a pregnancy test. Soon you know that you are pregnant and you don’t want to be. You also know that you want to have an abortion, as early as possible, and you want to have it at home, in private, and without undergoing any sort of invasive procedure.
You had better be ready to act fast, because your window of opportunity could become very, very small.
A new bill in the Mississippi House is seeking to change how RU-486 is dispensed in the state, combining a requirement to follow the outdated FDA protocol with a total of four visits to a doctor— the pre-abortion visit, one for mifepristone, one for misoprostol afterwards and then a final visit two weeks later. Even more onerous, though, is the other way in which the legislature would like to play doctor.
They want to limit medication abortions to just seven weeks after her last menstrual period, giving a woman just a few short weeks to get in, get counseling and get it done.
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In order to actually obtain a medication abortion, it would be necessary not only to discover you are pregnant almost immediately after you missed your period (assuming you have regular menstrual cycles) but you would also need to move immediately into making appointments, meeting with a doctor and all of the other requirements. For a state that declares that they really want women to think about their decision, that sure is a lot of rushing her into a clinic. Should you be one of those women who happen to have a longer-than-average menstrual cycle as well, then you could find yourself fighting whether your allowed to consider a medication abortion at all.
So why is it so important to limit the window of opportunity for a pregnant person to access RU-486, especially when medical standards show that it is effective up to nine weeks? Besides the fact that putting the outdated FDA protocol into effect means three times as much medicine (and so, three times as much cost), forcing women out of medication abortions and into surgical ones is essentially a way to throttle the number of terminations that can be performed on any given day. With only one provider in the state, that can have a serious effect on the number of patients that can be assisted at any time, and ensure that the number of abortions stay as low as possible until they come up with another way to end them all together.