Doctors and medical professionals devote nearly a decade, and sometimes even more than that, to earning the qualifications for their field. Extensive schooling, research, and licensing is required of these professionals before they can practice medicine and make informed decisions in the world of healthcare. Interestingly enough, none of the same credentials are required for an elected official to make medical decisions regarding women’s reproductive health.
The governor of Arizona signed a bill on the first of April which will require women to use an outdated method of administering medication that will chemically abort her pregnancy.
In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a label for the medication women take for a medical abortion (in the U.S. as Mifeprex ® ). The research that backed up the information on this label was conducted in the 1990s and was enacted in 2000. Evidence-based research has since proven that the label’s directions for administering the medication are outdated. Conveniently, the FDA approved a new label for the medicine on March 30, 2016 which includes a more effective method based on recent scientific research. This is a great advancement as it reflects safer and more modern medicine practices.
However, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona signed a bill only two days after the FDA label update that requires women to follow the protocol of the old label. It is incredulous that someone who has no background or any significant medical knowledge has the authority to make such an important decision. A person who does not have the extensive knowledge of or schooling in medicine will not know the medical effects of forcing a patient to follow old practices. This could be detrimental to the patient as it has been proven that the new method is the method that should be followed—the whole reason a new label was created in the first place.
Another bill in conjunction with this one makes Arizona one of in the country that requires doctors to give inaccurate information about medical abortions. In the state, doctors are required to inform patients that the pregnancy can be continued after the first set of pills has been administered. Not enough studies have been conducted on a large enough scale to accurately represent the risks. However, several small studies have results that show there is higher risk of malformation for pregnancies carried to term after early exposure to mifepristone (the non-generic name for Mifeprex®).
Not only does it promote unsafe practices, it also limits access of the medication to women. Doctors may be hesitant to give the medication to a patient knowing that she will have to follow the restrictive limitations now in place. This could also deter a patient from going through with a normally safer and noninvasive alternative to surgical abortions.
This is yet another case of politics finding its way into the world of medicine and reproductive rights. Women everywhere are not given top-notch care when it comes to such issues because of anti-choice legislation. When did it become normal and accepted for politicians to dictate the type of medical care someone receives and for what the patient is being treated for? Luckily, organizations such as The Center for Reproductive Rights and American Women’s Services have the same line of thinking and actively fight against unfair and unsafe legislation.