In 2011, Ohio passed a law that requires physicians to administer the medication abortion mifepristone using the FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) outdated dosage recommendations. Ohio wasn’t the first and only state to pass such a law – five other states have the same requirements: Arizona, Arkansas, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas. Courts have struck down the law in all but three states: Texas, Ohio and North Dakota.
The anti-abortion legislation was passed under the guise of protecting women, but a study from Advanced New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California-San Francisco found that the law actually did more harm than good.
Researchers found that women who had medication abortions were three times more likely to need additional medical treatment compared to women who had the same procedure before the law was passed.
The researchers analyzed charts from four abortion clinics in the state for eight months to see how the law affected women seeking medication abortions and whether the dosage requirements had any negative side effects.
The data showed that Ohio had an 80% decline in medication abortion procedures between 2010 and 2014. Of all available methods, the proportion of medication abortion declined from 22% before the law was passed to 5% after the legislation went into effect.
Most states that do not have such legislation saw an increase in medication abortion, according to researchers.
Women in Ohio were also more likely to require additional treatment, either an aspiration abortion or an additional dose of mifepristone.
Doctors typically prescribe 200mg of Mifeprex and 800 micrograms of misoprostol for medication abortions, which is very different from the FDA’s original dosage requirements when RU-486 was first available on the market in 2000. It’s common for dosages to change, as clinical trials help physicians better gauge how drugs interact with the body. But in states where the law requires the FDA’s dosage requirements, there is no room for dosage changes.
In March, the FDA approved the updated dosage information for mifepristone, allowing physicians in Ohio, Texas and North Dakota to adhere to updated recommendations. The lower dosage will be less costly to patients and will come with fewer side effects.