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10 Reasons Every Medical Student Should Learn about Medication Abortion


By Abby Ramey and Rachel Abbott, MSFC Student Organizers

As abortion becomes more restricted in the United States, medication abortion has become critical in the fight for abortion access. Medication abortion, or the “abortion pill”, is a combination of two drugs, Mifepristone and Misoprostol. It is a popular and safe option for many, accounting for around half of all abortions before nine weeks of pregnancy.

Before Roe v. Wade, illegal abortions outside the healthcare system were often extremely risky—which is why the coat hanger became an iconic symbol of unsafe abortion in the United States. Luckily, this is no longer accurate. Medication abortion now offers a safe alternative for people who self-manage their abortions. It’s essential knowledge for any medical student around the world – whether you live in a country where abortion is illegal, or one where it’s more accessible, your advocacy for medication abortion will make a difference.

Here are 10 reasons all medical students (whether they plan to provide abortions or not) should make sure they know about medication abortion:

  • 1 So you can provide it! There is a shortage of abortion providers in the United States, and around the globe. 90% of counties in the US lack an abortion provider.
  • 2 It’s not hard to master the skill. Prescribing medication abortion is just like prescribing any other medication.
  • 3 Most abortions happen in the first ten weeks of a pregnancy, so increasing the availability of medication abortion providers has a big impact on the number of options available to patients.
  • 4 Many patients prefer a medication abortion over a procedure abortion, including patients that may need to hide an abortion from an abuser (medication abortion looks like a miscarriage), people with trauma who can’t tolerate a pelvic exam, or someone in a country where abortion is illegal.
  • 5 Medication abortion can be provided through telemedicine, making it a great resource for people in rural or underserved communities.
  • 6 “Regardless of whether you provide medication abortion, you can still advocate for it to be offered at your practice and/or in your community, challenge myths (such as the “abortion pill reversal” myth), and support patients who have had medication abortions.”
  • 7 Self-managed abortion with pills is common. You can support patients who self-manage by providing them with accurate information.
  • 8 You can fight the stigma against abortion and self-managed abortion in your practice or healthcare system.
  • 9 Medication abortion has saved an untold number of lives throughout the world for people with no access to surgical abortion. This simple medication has dramatically reduced the maternal mortality rate in countries where surgical abortion is inaccessible or illegal. Rarely are there easier ways to save so many lives.
  • 10 Medication abortion should be routine healthcare every medical professional knows about!

Our members learn about medication abortion at the Conference on Family Planning, at our Abortion Training Institutes, and during their Reproductive Health Externship. We also offer resources for students to host their own medication abortion events on their campus. We encourage all our members to do all they can to spread the word about the power of medication abortion, and create a generation of doctors that understands how essential medication abortion and self-managed abortion already are, both in the US and around the world.

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"This is such a unique opportunity to gain clinical exposure in a classically underrepresented area of medical school curricula, and I am certain that I would not have received such a robust abortion education in medical school without the RHE."

Reproductive Health Externship Participant

"I left the ATI with a strengthened resolve to get abortion training during residency in order to provide them as a PCP, and now am looking ONLY at residency programs that will allow me to get training. Moreover, talking with residents and providers left me with concrete knowledge of how to find training experiences."

Abortion Training Institute Participant