FRIDAY, Dec. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday made permanent access to abortion pills by mail.
Patients will be able to have a telemedicine appointment with a service provider who can prescribe the pills and send them to the patient by mail, the FDA said in a statement. new leadership released on Thursday.
Abortion pills are approved in the United States for pregnancies up to 10 weeks gestation and are an increasingly common method of terminating an unwanted pregnancy.
Drug abortion is a two-drug regimen approved in the United States in 2000, with restrictions on the first drug only, mifepristone.
Earlier this year, the FDA said it would during the pandemic temporarily suspend the requirement for personal use of mifepristone. Thursday’s new announcement makes the decision permanent.
“It’s really significant,” said Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University New York Times. “Remote abortions are much easier for both providers and patients, and even in countries that want to do so, there are limitations in terms of availability.”
Other experts welcomed the news.
“This decision follows science, something we can only hope for from our state regulatory body for medicines. And science shows that treating abortion with drugs is safe to use through telehealth, “said Dr. Jamila Perritt, president and CEO of Reproductive Health Doctors.” We knew this before the pandemic and during this ongoing public health emergency, telehealth has become a critical way for healthcare providers to offer this essential care while we all tried to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This has always been an option for pregnant women and we are as relieved as possible. “
The FDA’s decision comes at a time when the Supreme Court is weighing abortion rights, and the agency’s decision is likely to deepen divisions between liberal and conservative states.
Nineteen states – mostly in the south and mid-west – ban telemedicine visits for abortion with drugs, and it is likely that they and other conservative states will enact more laws to further reduce access to abortion pills, Times reported. In contrast, liberal states like California and New York are expected to make abortion with drugs more affordable and take steps to help women in states that do not allow telemedicine for abortion pills.
Currently, women in states that do not allow telemedicine for abortion have to travel to a state that allows it, but do not have to go to a clinic. They just have to be anywhere in the state – even in a car – for their telehealth visit and can get the pills sent to any address in that state, Times reported.
Proponents of the right to abortion are likely to try to find ways to make abortion pills available without the need for a woman to travel, such as initiating a legal challenge to state bans on telemedicine for abortion.
“Despite FDA action, states across the country continue to impose medically unnecessary, dangerous restrictions on treating abortion with drugs,” Perritt noted. “We will continue to work until all people, no matter where they live, can get the care they need.”
The drugs were used in 42% of all abortions and 54% of abortions 10 weeks ago in the United States in 2019, according to data released last month by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is the last year for which CDC data are available Times reported.
Visit the US Food and Drug Administration for more information mifepristone.
SOURCE: Jamila Perritt, MD, President and CEO, Reproductive Health Physicians; New York Times