Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day. You can read “The Quickie'' online here.
In today’s Quickie: FDA approves first ever over-the-counter birth control pill, anti-abortion group to represent KS in abortion case, affirmative action ruling’s negative impact on health care, and PPAZ president to become new president of NAF.
OMG OPILL: FDA APPROVES FIRST EVER OVER-THE-COUNTER BIRTH CONTROL PILL: Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Opill, a progestin-only birth control pill, for over-the-counter use for people of all ages. Opill is the first birth control pill approved for over-the-counter use in the U.S. and will likely become available for purchase in early 2024.
“Birth control is essential health care,” Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), said. “Today’s FDA decision is a historic moment for health equity, sexual health, and reproductive rights. The data is clear: Birth control can be used safely and effectively over-the-counter for people of all ages. We are thrilled to see the FDA follow the science and remove an unnecessary barrier to accessing basic health care. We know that increasing access to birth control is not a solution to the ongoing attacks on abortion access and sexual and reproductive health. But it is a critical part of protecting our reproductive freedom, especially as states across the country continue to double down on their unpopular abortion bans and restrictions.”
“As health care providers, our priority is for patients to be able to get the care they need, when they need it,” Danika Severino Wynn, PPFA Vice President of SRH Clinical Standards & Abortion Access, said. “And birth control is essential health care. Today’s historic FDA decision allowing birth control to be purchased over the counter for people of all ages will increase access to essential care for millions of people. Decades of contraceptive research worldwide have established oral contraceptives as safe and effective at preventing pregnancy, and we applaud FDA’s decision to follow the science. While birth control access is no substitute for abortion access, access to contraception is critical to everyone’s freedom to manage their own health care and control their own lives and bodies.”
Leading medical associations including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all agree that birth control pills are safe to use over-the-counter.
Read more at the New York Times.
ANTI-ABORTION GROUP TO REPRESENT STATE OF KANSAS IN LAWSUIT OVER ABORTION REGULATIONS: Yesterday, the Kansas City Star broke the news that the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the anti-abortion group that was involved with the overturning of Roe v. Wade as well as current efforts to pull mifepristone from the market, will be representing the state of Kansas in litigation surrounding a new law that would require abortion providers to spread medical misinformation to their patients. Previously, Kansas Attorneys General would use in-house staff to defend the state, so AG Kobach’s decision to bring in an outside anti-abortion group is a stark departure from precedent.
“Kansas was the first state in the country to get to exercise the opportunity to vote on abortion rights issues and abortion access in the state. By an overwhelming majority they voted to protect patients and to ensure that access continued,” Emily Wales, President of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said to KC Star. “Now we have that same anti-abortion organization here, technically representing the state. There is something deeply concerning and extremely, openly, antidemocratic about what’s happening.”
Read more at Kansas City Star.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION RULING’S POTENTIAL NEGATIVE IMPACT ON HEALTH CARE: This week, KFF Health News explored how the Supreme Court’s ruling against race-based affirmative action may have concerning impacts on health care. As the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) argued in their amicus brief in support of affirmative action, diversity in medical education “literally saves lives.” According to a study of 1.8 million infants between 1992 and 2015, Black newborns were half as likely to die when cared for by a Black physician compared to a white physician.
“To the extent that physicians of a social outgroup are more likely to be aware of the challenges and issues that arise when treating their group, it stands to reason that these physicians may be more equipped to treat patients with complex needs,” the authors of the study wrote.
Norma Poll-Hunter, AAMC’s Senior Director of Workforce Diversity, points out: “Diversity in health care providers contributes to increased student, trainee, and physician confidence in working with patient populations who are different from their own identities.”
Although the full impact of the decision is still to come, there is a real risk that less people of color will go to medical school and become medical professionals. An examination of bans on race conscious college admissions in six states found that medical school enrollment of students of color in underrepresented groups fell about 17% after the bans were instituted.
Read more at Word in Black.
PP ARIZONA PRESIDENT NAMED NEW PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ABORTION FEDERATION: This morning, National Abortion Federation (NAF) announced that current Planned Parenthood of Arizona CEO and President Brittany Fonteno would be their next president and the organization’s first Black president. Fonteno sat down with Rewire News Group for an exclusive interview:
“It’s such an incredible honor to step into this role as the first Black woman to lead this organization. NAF plays such a critical and essential role in the wider movement by unifying abortion providers, and I feel that it’s a great privilege to be at the helm, representing abortion providers and trying to serve as a unifying force within the NAF federation. It’s a really challenging time within the movement, but it’s also a time filled with opportunities.
“I have been doing this work since I was 19, and to see the change in leadership within this movement start to reflect more people who look like me, as well as people who are most impacted by abortion and abortion bans, has been so incredible. Obviously, the reproductive justice movement really sprung up in response to predominantly white spaces, and predominantly white repro spaces in particular. I try to do my work from a reproductive justice lens. I have always felt very strongly that there’s no decisions about us, without us, and that we are the ones who should lead our communities forward in this historic moment in time.”
Read more at Rewire.