In highly politicized contexts, health professionals and women alike face significant barriers to a full range of reproductive health technologies. For example, in the US, anti-abortion legislators and conservative political groups actively attempt to prevent women’s access to medical abortion. Similarly, the use of misoprostol for reproductive health indications has become strictly regulated in a few countries, thereby limiting access to alternatives to standard surgical treatments for conditions such as miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage. We aim to realize the promise of medical abortion, and other reproductive health technologies, in the United States and abroad through the activities described below.
Coalition to Expand Access to Mifepristone in the United States.
In June 2015, Gynuity Health Projects launched the Coalition to Expand Access to Mifepristone in the United States. The project aims to facilitate collective action around several short and longer-term objectives, which include:
- Disseminating information to health providers and the public at large about the potential for medical abortion to improve women’s healthcare.
- Bolstering public support for improved mifepristone access.
- Generating media attention, articles in the academic literature, and public discussion around mifepristone and specific activities aimed at increasing access.
- Advocating for updates to the FDA-approved label for mifepristone to reflect evidence -based practice and reduce restrictions on how mifepristone is distributed.
- Advocating for the sale of mifepristone in pharmacies, directly to women.
By November 2015, 58 organizations and 154 individuals were involved in the Coalition. Members include researchers, advocates, clinicians and other reproductive health professionals.
Preserve, Protect, and Defend Medical Abortion in America
Over forty years ago the US Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade that women have the right to choose when and whether to have a child. Nevertheless, women’s access to abortion, including the availability of medical abortion, continues to be threatened. Gynuity, in collaboration with other partners, has been working actively to defend access to medical abortion by compiling and disseminating information on its safety and efficacy; providing technical assistance to legislators and NGOs; advocating for its continued availability through consensus-building among researchers, health professionals, policymakers, and the general population; and holding meetings on the topic for health providers and researchers that also work to preserve access to medical abortion in the US.
Incorporating New Technologies into Reproductive Health Service Guidelines
By participating in introductory clinical studies at different levels of care, local health providers and women have the opportunity to experience first-hand a new or improved treatment. Through our clinical studies and trainings, we introduce safe and effective technologies into health care facilities and systems, enhancing provider capacity to offer a broader range of services. As we complete each phase of research, we continue to work with in-country colleagues to expand use of new technologies to other health care facilities, with the ultimate goal of scaling up to a national level. Generating local evidence provides the ammunition for policy-makers to include the new technology into reproductive health service delivery norms and guidelines.