As the first anniversary of the FDA approval of mifepristone approaches, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) report widespread satisfaction from abortion providers offering mifepristone and patients seeking this non-surgical form of early abortion. Both NAF and PPFA, who collectively represent more than 1, 000 abortion facilities nationwide report more than 50% of their affiliated providers currently offer mifepristone as a form of early abortion and intend to continue to expand the drug’s availability nationwide. Danco, the distributor of mifepristone, is in the first phase of its distribution strategy and has concentrated on training and making mifepristone available through already existing abortion providers to increase the geographical access to the drug. These efforts have resulted in mifepristone availability in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Reflecting this strategy, a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that few private physicians who do not already perform surgical abortions are offering mifepristone. However, a particularly alarming trend highlighted in the Kaiser study found that 40% of obstetricians/gynecologists do not offer mifepristone to their patients because they “personally oppose” abortion.
“A doctor, particularly an obstetrician/gynecologist, has an ethical and professional obligation to provide the full range of reproductive health care services to her/his patient,” said Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We have known for some time that Catholic hospitals have pressured their physicians not to provide the full range of reproductive health services.”
On other mifepristone-related fronts, Feminist Majority Foundation continues to operate the Mifepristone Compassionate Use Program for terminally ill patients for whom mifepristone holds some hope of a potential treatment for their life-threatening illnesses, including brain tumors and progesterone dependent cancers. FMF continues to press for clinical trials to move forward on mifepristone’s potential treatment of ovarian cancer, fibroid tumors, and prostate cancer.