Analysis Human Rights

The Quiet Fight for Same-Sex Divorce

Tara Murtha

Many thousands of same-sex couples have gotten married in the United States; as a simple fact of modern life, a good number of them will get divorced. But many couples are finding that they're “wedlocked”—they got married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, but either live in or moved to a state where the practice is banned, and therefore cannot get a divorce.

Kim Stephan and Kate Peck spent a recent evening in the living room of their cozy home in Philadelphia reminiscing about the night they got engaged. Peck was a smooth operator: She invited Stephan to what she claimed was an exclusive Moby concert at a local concert hall, but there was no concert. Stephan was confused, at first, when she walked into the dark empty room. But then a spotlight clicked on, illuminating Peck, standing on stage dressed in a suit, a bucket of ice chilling a bottle of champagne at her feet. Peck didn’t even have to ask the question. Stephan said yes.

Like all same-sex couples in Pennsylvania who want to get married in their home state, Stephan and Peck are anxiously awaiting the day the state overturns its ban on same-sex marriage. Pennsylvania formalized its ban in 1996 when, in the wake of the federal government’s passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), it amended its Family Code:

It is hereby declared to be the strong and longstanding public policy of this Commonwealth that marriage shall be between one man and one woman. A marriage between persons of the same sex which was entered into in another state or foreign jurisdiction, even if valid where entered into, shall be void in this Commonwealth.

Advocates believe it’s only a matter of time before the ban is overturned; there are currently three key cases seeking to make that happen. In Philadelphia, a U.S. District Judge will weigh the “marriage recognition” issue in May. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 21 residents, alleging that Pennsylvania is violating residents’ Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment; that case is will be heard in Harrisburg in June. A third case, in state court, involves 28 residents who obtained wedding licenses from D. Bruce Hanes, the Montgomery County clerk who briefly became a national media sensation after granting 174 wedding licenses to same-sex couples last year, until the state demanded he cease and desist.

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Stephan and Peck look forward to getting married, but they’re also waiting for the ban to be reversed for another important, though less-discussed, reason: Legal gay marriage means legal gay divorce.

Even though they broke up, Stephan and her ex, Grace (not her real name), got married in New Hampshire. Their marriage is legally recognized in 17 states, the District of Columbia, and, since a critical portion of DOMA was knocked down, in the eyes of the federal government. But that marriage can’t be dissolved in Pennsylvania, because Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, not even to grant a divorce. In order to get divorced, then, either Stephan or Grace would have to move to a state willing to grant them a divorce, which all have residency requirements. Neither is willing to move, because both women have jobs, and lives, in Pennsylvania, not to mention shared custody of a child.

It’s a situation that advocates call “wedlocked”—when a same-sex couple has gotten married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, but either live in or move to a state where the practice is banned, and therefore cannot get divorced.

The Same-Sex Divorce Boom

Some 50,000 same-sex couples were married by 2011, and—as a simple fact of modern life—many of them will get divorced.

“It’s not a subject that marriage-equality groups tend to trumpet on their websites, but gay couples are at the start of a divorce boom,” declared a 2013 article in New York magazine. A year later, even as the subject of same-sex marriage makes daily headlines as the country inches toward marriage equality, same-sex divorce does not get a lot of airtime.

Angela Giampolo is a Philadelphia-based attorney who focuses on LGBT issues. She estimates that at least 100 people in same-sex marriages have contacted her trying to figure out how to get divorced. “And that’s just the people who didn’t know any better and came to me asking [about it],” Giampolo told Rewire. “[Then] there are all the people who are fully aware that they are wedlocked, and can’t do anything about it.”

Tiffany Palmer is also an attorney working on same-sex marriage issues. She has represented at least 20 clients. “We’re advising people to move to other states,” Palmer said. Clients have moved to New Jersey, Maryland, and New York.

Palmer points out that recent laws that are generally considered a positive step forward in the fight for same-sex marriage equality negatively affect couples who are wedlocked.

“Since the decision in Windsor“—the landmark 2013 Supreme Court case that struck a central portion of DOMA—it’s become an even more significant problem for same-sex couples,” Palmer told Rewire. It doesn’t help that the federal government recognizes same-sex couples for tax purposes when the couple is no longer speaking, or won’t agree on how to file, which can trigger an audit. The U.S. Department of Labor now recognizes same-sex marriage, which is great for couples with shared retirement plans, but terrible for wedlocked couples who can’t remove a beneficiary’s name from their paperwork without the beneficiary signing off, or via divorce proceedings.

The situation creates many overlapping legal, and emotional, limbos. Stephan says she tries to think of the situation as a paperwork problem, but Peck admits it bothers her. She shifts in her chair, facing Stephan. “I want to get married to you,” she says. “And I want to have that ceremony, and that part of the relationship happen.”

The Cartography of Divorce Equality

Right now, the nation has a state-by-state patchwork of partnership statuses, ranging from roommates to civil unions to marriage, all determined by geography. There’s a confusing patchwork of same-sex divorce laws, too, that shift as the marriage laws change. Navigating both requires patience, a map, and a good lawyer, because a lot is at stake.

For example, if a wedlocked man who can’t get divorced gets into an accident while visiting a state where his marriage is recognized, doctors may have to call his estranged legal partner regarding medical decisions. Similarly, if a wedlocked woman dies, a percentage of her property or other assets may have to funnel to the legal spouse, despite whatever instructions are outlined in a will.

And of course the situation is downright dangerous for anyone trying to leave an abusive partner.

Like most couples, Stephan and Grace say they didn’t think about divorce when they got married in New Hampshire in 2008. “Nobody told me” that divorce for same-sex couples can be so complicated, said Stephan. “And I didn’t think to ask.”

What’s more, it’s unclear if it’s technically accurate to say the couple got married in 2008. Stephan and Grace participated in a civil union ceremony in 2008; in 2010, a marriage certificate showed up in the mail.

“It said, ‘Congratulations, you’ve been upgraded to marriage,’” said Grace. “’If you don’t want this, please respond, but consider yourself married.’”

New Hampshire isn’t the only government that has mailed out similarly worded, opt-out “upgrades” as categories of partnership have shifted with the law. Stephan shrugs. “I thought, ‘Well, it doesn’t matter here [in Pennsylvania].’”

And practically speaking, it didn’t: They still had to pay a lawyer to manually replicate many of the legal benefits that come automatically with marriage, especially since they raise a son together. However, the automatic “upgrade” mattered a lot when the relationship fell apart.

Ironically, Pennsylvania’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge same-sex marriage is the mechanism forcing same-sex couples to stay married. Pennsylvania could, like Wyoming, not allow same-sex marriages while enabling residents who got married in other states to divorce. But Pennsylvania, the only state in the Northeast that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage and where there are few legal protections for LGBT individuals in general, takes the position that granting same-sex divorce means acknowledging same-sex marriage. Like the Family Code spells out, such relationships are simply “void.”

Like many couples, Stephan and Grace didn’t realize same-sex divorce didn’t exist in Pennsylvania until they tried to get one. Then they figured maybe they could go to New Hampshire to get divorced. But New Hampshire, like almost all states that recognize same-sex marriage, has residency requirements that mandate people live in the state for a specified period of time before a divorce can be granted. Most states that grant same-sex divorces have residency requirements ranging from six months to one year, and many have quirks that vary state-to-state.

Delaware and California, for example, will allow you to file for divorce, but only if you were married there, and if your home state won’t do it. Vermont has the same rule, but only if the couple doesn’t have children.

“People have suggested that I pay rent [for an apartment in New Jersey] for a full year, just so I can get divorced,” said Stephan.

Besides being expensive, falsifying residency in an other state is illegal, though people desperate to end their marriages have been driven to do it.

Instead, Stephan is going to wait for Pennsylvania law to change.

The best bet for Pennsylvania couples who want their equal marriage to mean equal divorce seems to be tying the knot in the District of Columbia. D.C. will dissolve a same-sex marriage for couples who got married there if the couple lives in a state that will not do it.

Stephan and Peck say they advise friends considering getting married to head to D.C. “It’s the gay pre-nup,” joked Stephan.

Even then, though, there are limits to what a court can do in that kind of situation, warns Joyce Kauffman, an attorney based in Massachusetts who specializes in family law and LGBT issues. “Even if you can dissolve the legal relationship and actually get divorced, that court, in another jurisdiction can not make orders about your children, because they don’t have jurisdiction over your children,” she said

Meanwhile, polls show that the majority of Pennsylvanians approve of same-sex marriage. They’re ready to move on. Stephan, Peck, and Grace—and no doubt hundreds of other same-sex couples in the state—are ready to move on, too.

Roundups Sexual Health

This Week in Sex: The Sexually Transmitted Infections Edition

Martha Kempner

A new Zika case suggests the virus can be transmitted from an infected woman to a male partner. And, in other news, HPV-related cancers are on the rise, and an experimental chlamydia vaccine shows signs of promise.

This Week in Sex is a weekly summary of news and research related to sexual behavior, sexuality education, contraception, STIs, and more.

Zika May Have Been Sexually Transmitted From a Woman to Her Male Partner

A new case suggests that males may be infected with the Zika virus through unprotected sex with female partners. Researchers have known for a while that men can infect their partners through penetrative sexual intercourse, but this is the first suspected case of sexual transmission from a woman.

The case involves a New York City woman who is in her early 20s and traveled to a country with high rates of the mosquito-borne virus (her name and the specific country where she traveled have not been released). The woman, who experienced stomach cramps and a headache while waiting for her flight back to New York, reported one act of sexual intercourse without a condom the day she returned from her trip. The following day, her symptoms became worse and included fever, fatigue, a rash, and tingling in her hands and feet. Two days later, she visited her primary-care provider and tests confirmed she had the Zika virus.

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A few days after that (seven days after intercourse), her male partner, also in his 20s, began feeling similar symptoms. He had a rash, a fever, and also conjunctivitis (pink eye). He, too, was diagnosed with Zika. After meeting with him, public health officials in the New York City confirmed that he had not traveled out of the country nor had he been recently bit by a mosquito. This leaves sexual transmission from his partner as the most likely cause of his infection, though further tests are being done.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations for preventing Zika have been based on the assumption that virus was spread from a male to a receptive partner. Therefore the recommendations had been that pregnant women whose male partners had traveled or lived in a place where Zika virus is spreading use condoms or abstain from sex during the pregnancy. For those couples for whom pregnancy is not an issue, the CDC recommended that men who had traveled to countries with Zika outbreaks and had symptoms of the virus, use condoms or abstain from sex for six months after their trip. It also suggested that men who traveled but don’t have symptoms use condoms for at least eight weeks.

Based on this case—the first to suggest female-to-male transmission—the CDC may extend these recommendations to couples in which a female traveled to a country with an outbreak.

More Signs of Gonorrhea’s Growing Antibiotic Resistance

Last week, the CDC released new data on gonorrhea and warned once again that the bacteria that causes this common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it.

There are about 350,000 cases of gonorrhea reported each year, but it is estimated that 800,000 cases really occur with many going undiagnosed and untreated. Once easily treatable with antibiotics, the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae has steadily gained resistance to whole classes of antibiotics over the decades. By the 1980s, penicillin no longer worked to treat it, and in 2007 the CDC stopped recommending the use of fluoroquinolones. Now, cephalosporins are the only class of drugs that work. The recommended treatment involves a combination of ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin) and azithromycin (an oral antibiotic).

Unfortunately, the data released last week—which comes from analysis of more than 5,000 samples of gonorrhea (called isolates) collected from STI clinics across the country—shows that the bacteria is developing resistance to these drugs as well. In fact, the percentage of gonorrhea isolates with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin increased more than 300 percent between 2013 and 2014 (from 0.6 percent to 2.5 percent).

Though no cases of treatment failure has been reported in the United States, this is a troubling sign of what may be coming. Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention, said in a press release: “It is unclear how long the combination therapy of azithromycin and ceftriaxone will be effective if the increases in resistance persists. We need to push forward on multiple fronts to ensure we can continue offering successful treatment to those who need it.”

HPV-Related Cancers Up Despite Vaccine 

The CDC also released new data this month showing an increase in HPV-associated cancers between 2008 and 2012 compared with the previous five-year period. HPV or human papillomavirus is an extremely common sexually transmitted infection. In fact, HPV is so common that the CDC believes most sexually active adults will get it at some point in their lives. Many cases of HPV clear spontaneously with no medical intervention, but certain types of the virus cause cancer of the cervix, vulva, penis, anus, mouth, and neck.

The CDC’s new data suggests that an average of 38,793 HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed each year between 2008 and 2012. This is a 17 percent increase from about 33,000 each year between 2004 and 2008. This is a particularly unfortunate trend given that the newest available vaccine—Gardasil 9—can prevent the types of HPV most often linked to cancer. In fact, researchers estimated that the majority of cancers found in the recent data (about 28,000 each year) were caused by types of the virus that could be prevented by the vaccine.

Unfortunately, as Rewire has reported, the vaccine is often mired in controversy and far fewer young people have received it than get most other recommended vaccines. In 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three recommended doses of the vaccine. In comparison, nearly 80 percent of young people in this age group had received the vaccine that protects against meningitis.

In response to the newest data, Dr. Electra Paskett, co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, told HealthDay:

In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer. Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe.

Making Inroads Toward a Chlamydia Vaccine

An article published in the journal Vaccine shows that researchers have made progress with a new vaccine to prevent chlamydia. According to lead researcher David Bulir of the M. G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at Canada’s McMaster University, efforts to create a vaccine have been underway for decades, but this is the first formulation to show success.

In 2014, there were 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia in the United States. While this bacterial infection can be easily treated with antibiotics, it often goes undiagnosed because many people show no symptoms. Untreated chlamydia can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which can leave scar tissue in the fallopian tubes or uterus and ultimately result in infertility.

The experimental vaccine was created by Canadian researchers who used pieces of the bacteria that causes chlamydia to form an antigen they called BD584. The hope was that the antigen could prompt the body’s immune system to fight the chlamydia bacteria if exposed to it.

Researchers gave BD584 to mice using a nasal spray, and then exposed them to chlamydia. The results were very promising. The mice who received the spray cleared the infection faster than the mice who did not. Moreover, the mice given the nasal spray were less likely to show symptoms of infection, such as bacterial shedding from the vagina or fluid blockages of the fallopian tubes.

There are many steps to go before this vaccine could become available. The researchers need to test it on other strains of the bacteria and in other animals before testing it in humans. And, of course, experience with the HPV vaccine shows that there’s work to be done to make sure people get vaccines that prevent STIs even after they’re invented. Nonetheless, a vaccine to prevent chlamydia would be a great victory in our ongoing fight against STIs and their health consequences, and we here at This Week in Sex are happy to end on a bit of a positive note.

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.”