The FDA Has Permanently Lifted a Major Restriction on Mail-Order Abortion Pills

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday that it would permanently lift a major ban on access to abortion pills, allowing pregnant people to order the medications via mail rather than in person from health care providers. “It’s really significant. Telehealth abortions are much easier for both providers and patients, and even in states that want to do it, there have been limits on how available it is,” Florida State University law professor Mary Ziegler told The New York Times.

This news comes as the U.S. is seeing a major attack on reproductive rights—most notably in Texas and Mississippi—that could lead to Roe v. Wade being overturned as soon as this summer. Now, thanks to the FDA’s decision, pregnant people will be able to be prescribed mifepristone and misoprostol (the two drugs used to end a pregnancy up to the 10th week of gestation) via telemedicine and receive the medications at home.

Medication abortion has been available in the U.S. since 2000, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 54% of abortions before the 10-week mark occurred with medication in 2019. Nineteen states (primarily Southern and Midwestern ones) currently ban the practice of obtaining mifepristone and misoprostol through telemedicine visits, and they are likely to pass laws curtailing further access to abortion pills in the wake of the FDA’s ruling, even as states like New York and California are likely to expand access to medication abortions for pregnant people traveling from out of state.

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