Texas doctors connect patients with reproductive health information after Roe v. wade
Stephanie Mischell is a family physician in Dallas. The clinic she works at is no longer able to provide abortion services, so she spends her time connecting people to resources.
“There is unfortunately so much misinformation when it comes to not just abortion, but reproductive health in general,” said Mischell, who is also a member of Physicians for Reproductive Health, a national advocacy organization.
One thing she’s noticed is that people aren’t sure about the difference between emergency contraception, like Plan B and IUDs, and abortion drugs.
Emergency contraception does not cause abortion
Mischell says that while emergency contraception is part of the spectrum of resources for people who can get pregnant, “it’s a really separate category from abortion care.”
Emergency contraception can be used up to five days after sexual activity to prevent pregnancy, she said. Medicines like Plan B, which is available in 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 implant in the uterus to become a pregnancy,” Mischell said. “Once the egg and sperm meet and are in the uterus, the pregnancy develops, these pills will not impact that growing pregnancy.”
IUDs work a little differently, she says. IUDs are usually small, flexible plastic T-shaped devices inserted into the uterus, preventing ovulation or preventing sperm from reaching an egg. IUDs can be hormonal or non-hormonal and can last up to 10 years.
Abortion drugs stop a growing pregnancy
Abortion drugs, on the other hand, are a series of pills that block hormones from reaching pregnancy and then push the uterus into pregnancy tissue. Mischell is not allowed to offer abortion drugs to patients due to Texas law after Roe v. Wade.
“When patients come into my office, most of the interactions are excuses that even though I know they might take [abortion medication] safe, that I know it’s a good option for them, it’s just not something we’re able to offer them,” she said.
Medical abortion “plays a crucial role in access to safe, effective and acceptable abortion care,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Mischell said the pills often cause patients to cramp and bleed initially, then spot or bleed for weeks afterward.
“When I talk to patients, I advise them to choose which type of abortion, medical or procedural, is best for them,” she said. “From a security point of view, these are two good options.”
Confusion, emergency contraception and politics
She thinks the confusion around emergency contraceptives and abortion drugs is not “medical confusion, it’s political confusion.”
“I think it’s the result of people making health care decisions that don’t speak from a place of medical knowledge, but really a place of power and control and shame of people who can get pregnant,” Mischell said. “Emergency contraception is not an abortion. And abortion bans should not apply to emergency contraception.
She fears that the overturning of Roe v. Wade does affect people’s ability to access reproductive health care, including emergency contraceptives and birth control. His work is already completely different from what it was a few weeks ago.
“It’s so hard to see so many people wanting this care and having to say no to them,” Mischell said. “Instead, you’re now stuck making these incredibly, incredibly difficult choices about how to handle a pregnancy. It’s just completely heartbreaking and unfair.
Where a person lives can have a huge impact on the type of health care they can access. Mischell said it was mind-boggling.
“It’s just dramatic inequality and a real disservice to the people of Texas,” Mischell said.
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