Argentina’s national administration of medications, foods and technology (ANMAT) authorized pharmacies to sell misoprostol, a medication that can be used to conduct abortions. The medication will be sold under “strict prescription,” and, according to law 16,463, “has to be used under rigorous medical vigilance due to the danger that its uncontrolled use could have.”
In the past, misoprostol could only be given in hospitals. Now, private gynecologists will be able to prescribe it if they determine their patients are pregnant as a result of at least one of the circumstances for which Argentine law authorizes legal abortions. Namely, if it poses a risk for the woman’s health – the risk can be physical, mental, emotional and social well-being or if the pregnancy happens as the result of a rape.
The prescription for misoprostol will have to include the reasons why the gynecologist considers that the abortion has to be conducted.
In an interview with The Bubble, Nadia, a worker at Socorristas en Red, an organization that helps women get safe abortions when they have chosen to terminate their pregnancies, said that “Misoprostol is a great option for an abortion.”
“Getting a legal abortion at a hospital is very expensive, but now with misoprostol being prescribed, a woman can get the pill on her own.” In addition, she confirmed that hospitals and health centers that don’t have misoprostol in stock will also be able to hand out prescriptions for women to buy them in pharmacies.
She also said that another benefit that comes with the availability of this drug, is the safety that it offers in comparison to other abortion methods.
“There are hospitals that are still performing curettage, even though the ILE [in English, the Legal Interruption of Pregnancy] protocol recommends against it due to its invasive nature,” she told us.
The only way to get misoprostol in Argentine pharmacies used to be through a medication called Oxaprost, which, however, is not specifically designed for this purpose.
“Oxaprus is made by Beta Laboratories and has misoprostol and diclofenac in its core,” said Nadia. “It can be used for abortions, but you need to extract the diclofenac beforehand. It is much less efficient than pure misoprostol. Because Beta Laboratories has a monopoly on Oxaprus, its price has gone up 300 percent in the past few years. With pure misoprostol being sold in pharmacies now, the monopoly is broken and thus the drug is significantly cheaper.”
This misoprostol drug, called Misop 200, has the right dosage to have a safe abortion, as it follows the guidelines set by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. It is set to start being sold in pharmacies come December.
“Because there’s gonna be more stock overall and several labs producing it, I believe this progress is very important after this last push against abortions by the senate,” she said. “It’s a way for us to keep fighting even though the law wasn’t approved,” she finished.
Argentina’s abortion decriminalization bill was debated in Congress this past winter and while it managed to pass the Lower House, it died in the Senate after a highly divisive debate.
Nadia requested that her last name not be published for her safety.