Stephanie Mischell is a family doctor in Dallas. The clinic where she works is no longer able to provide abortion services, so she spends her time connecting people to resources.
“There is just, unfortunately, so much misinformation when it comes to not just abortion, but to reproductive health in general,” says Mischell, who is also a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national advocacy organization.
One thing she noticed is that people are not sure of the difference between emergency contraception, such as Plan B and IUDs, and abortion medication.
Emergency contraception does not cause abortions
Mischell says while emergency contraception is part of the spectrum of resources for people who may become pregnant, “it is a very separate category as abortion care.”
Emergency contraception can be used up to five days after sexual activity to prevent pregnancy, she said. Medicines such as Plan B, which are available at pharmacies, and Ella, which is a prescription pill, work by preventing ovulation.
“The egg is never released from the ovary and cannot meet the sperm and be implanted in the uterus to become a pregnancy,” Mischell said. “Once the egg and sperm meet and sit in the womb, that pregnancy grows, those pills will not have an impact on that growing pregnancy.”
IUDs work a little differently, she said. IUDs are usually small, t-shaped, flexible plastic devices that are placed in the uterus, which prevent ovulation or prevent sperm from reaching an egg. IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal, and can last up to 10 years.
Abortion medication stops a growing pregnancy
Abortion medication, on the other hand, is a series of pills that prevent hormones from reaching pregnancy, and then cause the uterus to bypass the pregnancy tissue. Mischell is not allowed to offer abortion medication to patients due to Texas law after Roe v. Wade.
“When patients show up at my office, most of the interaction is excuses for the fact that even though I know they can [abortion medication] safe, that I know it’s a good option for them, it’s just not something we can provide, ”she said.
Medical abortion “plays a crucial role in providing access to safe, effective and acceptable abortion care,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Mischell said the pills initially often cause cramps and bleeding for patients, and then stains or bleeding for the weeks that follow.
“When I talk to patients, I advise them to choose the type of abortion, whether it is medication or procedure, that feels most comfortable to them,” she said. “From a security perspective, they are both good options.”
Confusion, emergency contraception and politics
She believes the confusion surrounding emergency contraception and abortion medication is not a “medical confluence, it is a political conflict.”
“I think it’s the result of people making health care decisions who are not speaking from a place of medical knowledge, but are really ashamed of a place of power, control and people who can get pregnant,” Mischell said. “Emergency contraception is not abortion. And abortion bans should not apply to emergency contraception. ”
She is concerned that Roe v. Wade being overthrown can affect people’s ability to access reproductive health care, including emergency contraception and birth control. Her work already looks completely different from a few weeks ago.
“It’s just as hard to see so many people wanting this care, and they have to say no,” Mischell said. “Instead, you are now stuck with these incredibly, incredibly difficult choices about how to handle a pregnancy. It’s just completely heartbreaking and unfair. “
Where someone lives can have a huge impact on what kind of health care they have access to. Mischell said it was staggering.
“It’s just a dramatic inequality and a real disservice to the people of Texas,” Mischell said.
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