Jacobs Institute in the News

The Pill Makes Some Women Miserable. But Are They Really Quitting It en Masse?

Contrary to recent anecdotal reports, there have been increases in the number of birth control prescriptions, especially following the Dobbs decision in June 2022. Julia Strasser told The New York Times that in 2022 versus 2019, more than half of initial contraception prescriptions were for more than one month supply. 

Birthrates in the U.S. hit historic low, CDC data show

Jacobs Institute Director Julia Strasser spoke with The Washington Post about likely causes of the falling birthrate according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "States with abortion bans already have some of the worst maternal health outcomes and poverty rates in the U.S., both of which are key factors in determining the birthrate."

Florida's Impending Abortion Ban to Leave Care Vacuum in South

As Florida's impending 6-week abortion looms, the entire landscape of abortion access is poised to shift in the South, Amita Vyras told Bloomberg.“Having this on the ballot for November will really elevate the discussion and conversation not just in Florida, but also across the country.” 

Supreme Court likely to preserve access to abortion drug Mifepristone

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case that could sharply restrict access to abortion drug mifepristone, if the Court decides that the judicial branch of government can overrule scientific determinations made by FDA. Julia Strasser spoke with FOX5 DC about one of the lines of questioning that suggests the justices are unlikely to use this case to put medication abortion out of reach for people in several states.

In abortion pill case, US high court may undermine drug regulator

As the Supreme Court decides whether to interfere in FDA determinations about the safe and effective use of the abortion drug mifepristone, everyone should be aware of the potential consequences, Liz Borkowski told AFP. "We have decades of evidence about the safety and efficacy of mifepristone. If mifepristone cannot stay on the market, as it is, with all these mountains of evidence that we have, then no drug is safe."

How A Shortage Of Healthcare Workers Complicates Contraceptive Access

For a report on how a shortage of healthcare workers affects access to contraception, Julia Strasser told Upstream USA: “It’s not just the supply of providers, it’s also about the distribution of providers. There may be enough providers in the U.S. but that doesn’t matter if those providers tend to be concentrated in certain areas.” She noted that training family physicians and advanced practice providers to provide this kind of care, rather than relying on OB-GYNs alone, can improve access.

Conservatives Gear Up for EPA Revamp in 2025

Liz Borkowski told E&E News that plans to cut staffing and suspend advisory boards at EPA threaten the agency’s capacity to use the best available science to protect public health.

Texas fights Biden over saving the life of mothers during crisis pregnancies

Sara Rosenbaum told Texas Public Radio that despite Texas' ban on abortion, the EMTALA law still requires health care providers to intercede in emergency situations, including health emergencies that may result in emergency abortions or other life-saving pregnancy care. 

Hospital Maternity Units are Closing across Michigan

“We know that providers tend to be more concentrated in urban and more well-resourced areas, which is also where hospitals tend to be located,” Julia Strasser told Rebekah Sager of the Michigan Independent. Residents of some rural areas of Michigan are suffering as hospitals terminate midwifery services or close labor and delivery units.

EPA to Unveil Scientific Integrity Plan Soon. Will it Work?

Liz Borkowski explained to E&E News that while EPA’s draft scientific integrity policy includes several positive aspects, “The degree to which this policy actually protects employees from retaliation will depend to a large degree on the specific procedures EPA still needs to draft and how well those procedures are implemented.”

Is abortion access in peril (even where it's legal)? Supreme Court case could tip balance.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that challenges FDA’s regulation of the abortion drug mifepristone. Sara Rosenbaum told USA Today that if the Supreme Court rules against telemedicine appointments and mailing of mifepristone to patients, it “would be the equivalent of a nationwide ban.” FDA allowed for these options with revisions of the rules for mifepristone in 2016 and 2021, and plaintiffs seek to undo those evidence-based changes.

Abortion Pill Access Threatened as Justices Take Narrow Appeal

Sara Rosenbaum told Bloomberg Law that the Supreme Court could decide the case regarding FDA’s approval of the abortion drug mifepristone by determining that the plaintiffs — doctors who don’t prescribe medication abortion — don’t have standing. “This may be an opportunity for the Supreme Court to start setting some ground rules,” she said, noting, “The standing issue is a threat to the proper functioning of courts.”

First detailed U.S. scientific integrity draft policies get mixed responses

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its draft scientific integrity policy for public comment. Liz Borkowski told Phie Jacobs of Science about a comment submitted by several organizations whose work involves scientific integrity; it contains several recommendations for HHS to strengthen its policy.

Maternal Care Deserts Overlap with Lack of Abortion Access, Analysis Shows

Julia Strasser told ABC News about the lack of perinatal care in parts of the country, noting that many of the people forced to bear children under abortion bans “don't have the support services you need to be able to see someone through a pregnancy and delivery."

Medicaid Beneficiaries Often Lack Primary Care Access to Contraception, Especially LARC

“The goal is for physicians to be able to provide the full range of methods to their patients without having to refer them to another provider,” Julia Strasser told Contraceptive Technology Update. Her team's study found fewer than half of primary care physicians who serve Medicaid beneficiaries prescribed hormonal contraceptive methods.

As Laws Restricting Health Care Surge, Some US Physicians Choose Between Fight or Flight

Julia Strasser spoke with Melissa Suran of JAMA Medical News about how her team is analyzing relocations of clinicians providing reproductive health care. Early evidence suggests some physicians are leaving abortion-banning states where they are unable to provide all the forms of care their patients might need.

What’s Missing From the ‘Abortion Pill’ Conversation

"This is yet another attack on our agency, our autonomy as people, and given the history of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the domestic slave trade here in the U.S., our agency is so essential,” Jameta Nicole Barlow told Capital B's Margo Snipe about a Texas district court judge's ruling against abortion drug mifepristone.

“We’re pushing people into a system without any choices”: The state of maternal mortality in Missouri

“When you restrict access to abortion, you’re also restricting access to these other services that are related to pregnancy care,” Julia Strasser told The Kansas City Beacon. Missouri lawmakers are attempting a bipartisan push for Medicaid expansion to address the state's high maternal death rate, but its abortion ban imperils access to high-quality reproductive healthcare.

This Texas lawsuit could halt access to an abortion drug nationwide

“If a judge can overturn an FDA decision that is based on extensive collection of evidence and deliberation, then that has really serious consequences for all of us who rely on any kind of medical care, which is basically all of us," Liz Borkowski told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about a Texas lawsuit that seeks to overturn FDA's approval of the abortion drug mifepristone.

Changes in the clinical workforce for contraception and abortion care

“Maintaining access to care relies on both a robust workforce that can provide that care and on those providers receiving the support they need," Julia Strasser told Contemporary OB/GYN. The article describes her team's research findings regarding the contraception and abortion workforce in 2019-2021.

November 23, 2022 - POLITICO

“It seems like they’re laying the groundwork for considering contraception itself as medical waste,” Susan Wood told Alice Miranda Ollstein about abortion opponents’ attempt to use environmental laws to block the distribution of abortion pills.

November 14, 2022 - The GW Hatchet

Lydie Lake and Rory Quealy of the George Washington University student newspaper wrote about a study by Julia Strasser and colleagues that tracked changes in the abortion and contraceptive services workforce between 2019 and 2021. They found a drop in the number of physicians working in these areas and an “encouraging rise” in the number of advanced practice clinicians offering such care.

November 7, 2022 - Healio

Julia Strasser provided an invited perspective on a new study that found Black women experience worse IVF outcomes and neighborhood deprivation does not explain differences in IVF success. “These findings highlight the need for health services researchers to consider not only differences in race and ethnicity, but other structural factors that may affect both access to care and underlying needs for treatment,” Strasser commented.

November 1, 2022 - Healthcare Dive

A study by Julia Strasser and colleagues found the number of physicians providing contraceptive services is decreasing. "Researchers suggested that investing in women’s health and primary care physicians, along with state-level expanded scope of practice policies, could strengthen that segment of the workforce," wrote Rebecca Pifer about the research.

An Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill Could Be a Game-Changer

Julia Strassere spoke with Relias Media about over-the-counter birth control and access to contraception and other reproductive health services: "But no matter how much contraceptive access there is, it can never replace what is lost because of abortion access barriers."

Relias Media - September 1, 2022

In an article about the possibility of an over-the-counter birth control pill, Julia Strasser explained that such an option can eliminate such access barriers but “can never replace what is lost because of abortion access barriers.”

July 25, 2022 - Healio

Julia Strasser provided an invited perspective on a new study that involved a survey of pregnant adults who sought abortions in Ohio. “This study supports the conclusion that a 6-week [abortion] ban is, in fact, a near-total ban,” she explained.

July 12, 2022 - ABC News

Susan Wood explained that when FDA first considered emergency contraceptive Plan B in the 1990s, its mechanism for preventing pregnancy wasn’t totally clear. Now that we know it blocks ovulation, she suggests FDA update the language on its website to be clear, given growing false claims that emergency contraception is the same as abortion.

July 12, 2022 - WBUR: Here and Now

Susan Wood spoke with Robin Young about the potential for an over-the-counter progestin-only pill to increase contraceptive options. She explained the difference between progestin-only pills and progestin-estrogen combination pills and why the pills should be sold without age restrictions.

July 11, 2022 - Washington Post

Susan Wood applauded the prospect of an over-the-counter birth control pill and expressed a hope that FDA would approve the application promptly. She also commented, “This is not a substitute for access to abortion care in the U.S., but will provide one more tool for the toolbox for preventing unintended pregnancies and more options for family planning.”

June 24, 2022 - Reuters

Susan Wood spoke to Ahmed Aboulenein about prospects for medication abortion drugs becoming available over the counter: “I personally don’t see it happening in the next couple of years.”

June 24, 2022 - NPR Marketplace

“Abortion providers face threats to their physical safety as well as their livelihoods. And we know that those threats have increased in recent years, even just between 2019 and 2020,” Julia Strasser told Janet Nguyen about the likely impacts of the Supreme Court decision overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.

June 24, 2022 - Spectrum News

The loss of abortion rights in several states will result in fewer abortion providers in the workforce, Julia Strasser told Erin Billups, and that in turn will results in fewer providers able to train the next generation of abortion providers. 

June 7, 2022 - Kaiser Health News

Susan Wood explained that in order for the label of the emergency contraceptive Plan B to be updated, the manufacturer must request a label change from FDA. She told Sarah Varney a label update would be straightforward given existing human data about the drug’s mechanism of action.

May 20, 2022 - Healio

Julia Strasser provided an invited perspective on a new study that surveyed people who were considering abortions in 2017 and 2018. She explained that the findings “suggests that there will be significant implications of greater travel distance to abortion providers — a problem that will substantially escalate as states ban or restrict abortion in the coming months and travel distances increase.”

May 19, 2022 - NPR

Concerns are mounting about losses in the abortion care workforce now that the Supreme Court has removed the constitutional right to abortion. "What we don't know yet is to what extent providers will either drop out of the workforce altogether, or whether they will leave a state that is restrictive and go practice in another state that is less restrictive," Julia Strasser told Will Stone.

May 5, 2022 - Health Affairs Forefront

In a blog post for Health Affairs Forefront, reprinted by the California Health Care Foundation, Julia Strasser and colleagues describe the likely effect of abortion bans on pregnancy care. "When punitive restrictions discourage providers from doing procedures to treat pregnancy loss — on the chance that they will be perceived as abortion procedures — providers will begin to lose their skills in this area," they wrote.

May 4, 2022 - Medscape News

Julia Strasser discussed with Lisa Gillespie the ways in which a reversal of Roe v. Wade would affect training future residency trainings. 

May 4, 2022 - NBC News

In response to leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that overturns the constitutional right to abortion, Susan Wood explained that we don’t expect to see the kinds of “back-alley” abortions that characterized the pre-Roe v. Wade era, because medication abortion now available.

March 23, 2022 - Medscape News

Julia Strasser discussed with Elizabeth Millard the small, and likely decreasing, supply of US abortion providers. 

March 23, 2022 - Healio

Julia Strasser talked with Maria Marabito about findings from a study she and her colleagues published in JAMA Internal Medicine. They used medical claims to identify primary care providers who provided management of pregnancy loss and, based on that experience, could begin offering medication abortion and help address the insufficient supply of abortion providers.

The FDA and its new commissioner must follow the science

In an op-ed for The Hill, Susan F. Wood explains that anti-abortion groups are targeting FDA commissioner nominee Dr. Robert Califf over the abortion drug mifepristone. "At this pivotal moment for the FDA, and amidst an ongoing public health emergency that already curtails access to health care, the vote for the next FDA commissioner must be based on their ability to uphold scientific decision-making," she writes.

Employee Healthcare Worker Morale, Safety Concerns Rise without OSHA ETS Protection

Liz Borkowski explained that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's withdrawal of its emergency temporary standard to protect workers in healthcare settings has raised concern about occupational health risks among healthcare workers, but that employers should still provide safe and healthy workplaces as required by law. 

December 2, 2021 - Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Liz Borkowski discussed a new Texas law that limits medication abortion to 7 weeks' gestation, as opposed to the 10 weeks allowed under the FDA's current label. “It seems like Texas lawmakers are thinking they know more about the science behind medication abortion than the FDA does,” she told Ciara McCarthy. “And that seems unlikely to be true.”

September 3, 2021 - Healio

Julia Strasser spoke with Richard Gawel about findings from a study her team published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. They used multiple data sources to construct a database of the US contraceptive workforce, focused on who prescribes different forms of contraception. They found that family medicine physicians, internal medicine physicians, pediatricians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants account for 76% of the contraception provider workforce. 

August 10, 2021 - Texas Tribune

Sara Imershein explained to Heidi Pérez-Moreno that “heartbeat” abortion bans are misleadingly named because fetal hearts have not formed at the point when sounds resembling a heartbeat can be heard. “They came up with this expression particularly to mislead people into believing this is further along in pregnancy than it is,” Dr. Imershein said.

May 31, 2021 - POLITICO

Susan Wood explained how the abortion drug mifepristone is singled out for restrictions that aren't warranted given evidence of its safety. "Unfortunately, whenever we talk about women’s reproductive health, we see the controversy move to the forefront and science gets pushed to the side," she told Alice Miranda Ollstein.

Four ways Trump has meddled in pandemic science — and why it matters

An article about ways the Trump administration has interfered in the science around COVID-19 included an example of political appointees meddling with CDC's flagship Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Liz Borkowski explained to Giuliana Viglione that MMWR is "revered in the public-health community," which made this interference particularly horrifying.

Oct 3, 2020 - Prevention

In an article published shortly before the 2020 election, Susan Wood told Meryl Davids Landau about some of the many ways elected officials influence women's health -- including Congressional decisions about research funding, presidential appointment of agency leaders, and nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court justices who interpret existing laws.

September 29, 2020 - The New York Times

Sara Imershein reviewed records of women detained in ICE facilities and subjected to surgical interventions for gynecological issues without full informed patient consent. She found the ICE doctor’s diagnoses to be poorly supported and not well documented.

March 2, 2020 - The Lily

Vice President Pence's coronavirus task force is largely composed of men. Susan Wood explained to Lena Felton that male-dominated emergency response efforts can do a poor job of addressing women's health needs--and there are plenty of well-qualified women in the public health field who could participate in such efforts.

Plan B accessiblity

Jessica Washington of Mother Jones tried to buy over-the-counter emergency contraception and encountered barriers in several different pharmacies. She spoke with Susan Wood about why the Bush and Obama administrations didn't immediately make warranted changes to improve accessibility, and Wood told her the reasons weren't based on science.

Philanthropy and reproductive health

Private foundations are funding much of the U.S. work to improve access to contraception. “The ideal solution is for the federal government to fund accessible high-quality voluntary family planning for anyone who wants it,” Liz Borkowski told Vox reporter Kelsey Piper. “Obviously, this is not what we’re seeing.”

August 6, 2019 - Washington Post

Hannah Natanson profiled Sara Imershein, who since retiring from her obstetrics-gynecology practice spends her time performing first-trimester abortions and newborn circumcisions. “She believes both practices achieve the same goal: allowing women to create the families they want. Given that, she said, her Jewish faith compels her to offer the two services to Washington-area residents.”

The Blueprint for Global Reproductive Justice

The Jacobs Institute was one of nearly 80 organizations endorsing "The Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice," which establishes five key principles and many policy goals. "The blueprint is significant, and unprecedented, because it marks the first time the wide range of reproductive health, justice and rights organizations have come together to develop a detailed and intersectional policy agenda," explains In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda.

July 11, 2019 - The Jewish News of Northern California

“I always said as a physician, when I grow up and retire, I’m going to do abortions because it was a way to use my techniques to alleviate suffering,” Sara Imershein told Jta Ron Kampeas. Her faith also guided her to train as a mohelet and offer newborn circumcisions.

Is It A Feminist Right To Want More Sex? One Company Thinks A Pill Is The Answer

A "disease awareness" campaign by Sprout Pharmaceuticals directs users to the drug Addyi. “This particular product should not have been approved by FDA, but it was, and it is not a product that adds value to women’s lives,” Susan Wood told Rachel Bluth of Kaiser Health News.

How I Got My Employer to Acknowledge My Nursing Issue

In a column about her experience advocating for better breastfeeding conditions at her workplace, Christine Michel Carter references a study published in Women's Health Issues. It found that only 40% of working mothers of infants reported having access to both a private place and break time to express breast milk. 

Science, Civil Rights, Public Health and Good Government Groups Rally Behind Scientific Integrity Legislation

The Jacobs Institute is one of several organizations supporting the Scientific Integrity Act, introduced by Senator Brian Schatz and Rep. Paul Tonko. Susan Wood said: "Given recent instances where ideology has seemingly supplanted science around women's health, we applaud this bill for promoting the role of science to guide policy decisions on public health."

Online Abortion Pills Come to the U.S.

A new service called Aid Access is providing prescription abortion drugs by mail order in the U.S., in a model FDA claims circumvents important safeguards for the drug mifepristone. But, Susan Wood told Marie McCullough, the purported safeguards are excessive and not supported by evidence.

 

Fact-checking Martha McSally's position on birth control

Arizona Republican Martha McSally is running to represent Arizona in the U.S. Senate, and she backed a bill that would make it easier to buy contraceptive drugs without a prescription. Some have claimed the bill could undermine coverage that currently exists under the Affordable Care Act. "On the surface it appears to be expanding access," Susan Wood told Miriam Valverde. "But unless you solve the cost problem for insured people, you are in fact reducing access."

The FDA Doesn’t Know What To Do About Scientists Who Are Sexual Harassers

The Food and Drug Administration gave a $20 million grant to a center headed by Stanton Glantz, a tobacco researcher whose university found he created an "intimidating and offensive" work environment. Wood said the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than individual agencies like FDA, should develop "clear policies and they need to be appropriate in the consequences for sexual harassment."

Abortion Challenge May Loom After Supreme Court Retirement

“Justice Kennedy’s retirement upsets a delicate balance and puts more than women’s access to abortion care at great risk. A woman’s ability to make her own health care decisions — of all kinds — will be restricted if Roe vs. Wade is overturned,” Susan Wood told Roll Call's Sandhya Raman about the Supreme Court.

Title X Funding In Limbo With Federal Grants Slated To Expire

Susan Wood spoke with Robin Young of Here & Now about the Trump administration's failure to release a new funding announcement for Title X, the federally funded family planning program for low-income clients, as the current round of grants nears expiration.

June 13, 2017 - Marie Claire

Stephanie Russell-Kraft profiled Sara Imershein, who provides first-trimester abortions in Virginia. “I am so morally committed to providing this care and using my medical skills in a way that is so empowering, and wow, I get told 'Thank you' every day on top of it,” Dr. Imershein said.

Relias Media - January 1, 2023

“As we have already seen — even with a few months of the Dobbs decision — it does not just affect abortion care, it affects so much of healthcare,” Julia Strasser told Relias Media. She noted that we've already seen news of people not receiving potentially life-saving care for a miscarriage.

Relias Media - January 1, 2023

COVID-19 strained the reproductive health workforce over the past few years, and the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade adds another stress. For Relias Media, Julia Strasser described her team's findings from research on the contraception and abortion workforce in 2019-2021. 

ABC News - December 23, 2022

Susan Wood explained to ABC News that recent studies have clarified the mechanism of action for emergency contraceptive Plan B, so we now know it only works when taken before ovulation.