MD/PhD Candidate and CORE Researcher Taryn Valley and CORE alumna Barbara Alvarez have a new piece out this week in Scholars Strategy Network titled “How Medication Abortion Legislation in Wisconsin Impedes Access to Safe Care.” Our map of Wisconsin above, designed by Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology media specialist Rob Garza, shows the location of Wisconsin clinics that provide abortion care as of 2021.
Valley and Alvarez’s research, building on previous work on the subject by a variety of scholars, finds that medication abortion is safe and can be provided via telehealth and by advanced practice practitioners like Nurse Pracitioners and Physician Associates, in addition to physicians.
Current abortion regulations in the US vary widely by state. Valley and Alvarez studied Act 217, a Wisconsin regulation requiring that the same physician conduct an initial appointment and then, at least 24 hours later, physically provide patients with the medicines for a medication abortion. Medication abortions can be administered orally, and do not require any medical procedures.
The study found that Act 217’s medically unnecessary restrictions create significant barriers for patients seeking abortions, as well as unnecessary challenges for doctors who provide abortion care.
Next Steps for Wisconsin
Valley and Alvarez write, “Abortion is legal and guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, but people who can get pregnant in Wisconsin face a complicated web of restrictions, including the many barriers erected by Act 217. While the increasingly politicized U.S. Supreme Court has forbidden telehealth use for medication abortion, globally, the World Health Organization asserts misoprostol – the second of the two-medication regimen – is an essential medication that is safe to use at home. Wisconsin’s restrictions go against both domestic constitutional protections and global consensus about safety and best practices. The providers as well as the involved researchers call on the legislature and judiciary of Wisconsin to repeal Act 217 in order to provide the legal right to an abortion, including medication abortion, in Wisconsin.”