Maine medical community reaffirms support for abortion medication

The abortion drug Mifepristone, also known as RU486| Phil Walter, Getty Images

Maine’s medical community is applauding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to preserve access to the abortion medication mifepristone.

The justices granted emergency requests from the Biden administration and rejected a lower court’s restrictions on the drug while a lawsuit continues.

Erik Steele, family physician and president of the Maine Medical Association, said the majority of physicians believe the complex decision to end a pregnancy is best made in the privacy of a doctor’s office and not the courts.

“If they simply outlaw the medication, women will find another way around it to make their own decisions about their pregnancies,” Steele pointed out.

Mifepristone is used in more than half of abortions in the U.S. and has been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration since 2000. Gov. Janet Mills has suggested the state stockpile the drug in case of future restrictions.

Abortion is currently legal in Maine until “viability,” which usually occurs between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, and exceptions are allowed to save a mother’s life.

Steele noted increasing legislative efforts nationwide to restrict abortion access are helping fuel a shortage of reproductive care providers, and preventing women from getting the help they need.

“We think it’s impossible to legislate this kind of thing,” Steele contended. “It’s so complex, it really has to be left to the patient and the physician to make this decision.”

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, 24 states have banned abortion or placed limits on access to abortion care. Nearly 90% of U.S. counties currently have no abortion provider.

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