On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed a restriction from the distribution of the abortion pill, allowing it to be given out in different settings rather than the method by which it has been issued in the past.
The FDA stated:
After conducting a review of the single, shared system Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for mifepristone, known as the Mifepristone REMS Program, FDA determined that the data support modification of the REMS to reduce burden on patient access and the health care delivery system and to ensure the benefits of the product outweigh the risks. The modifications to the Mifepristone REMS Program will consist of:
- Removing the requirement that mifepristone be dispensed only in certain healthcare settings, specifically clinics, medical offices, and hospitals (referred to as the “in-person dispensing requirement”)
- Adding a requirement that pharmacies that dispense the drug be certified
The new development will now allow the medication abortion to be sent through the mail and even potentially purchased or acquired online.
Pro-life advocates have pointed out the dangers of medication abortion and stressed the importance of such a rule that requires women to be examined in-person by a medical professional prior to undergoing this method of abortion. In addition, many have pointed out the high opportunity for abuse if human traffickers or abusers get their hands on the abortion pills through the mail without a woman being seen by a doctor.
Pro-life advocates have spoken out against the decision and pointed to the fact that the FDA didn’t pay attention to information that shows mifepristone results in more women ending up in the emergency room.
“Today’s FDA decision ignores several sets of much more substantial data which confirms the abortion pill is a significant public health threat, and the real-world data suggests that threat is growing,” said Dr. James Studnicki, vice president of data analytics at Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life group.
As The New York Times reported, “In 19 states, mostly in the South and the Midwest, telemedicine visits for medication abortion are banned, and these and other conservative states can be expected to pass other laws to further curtail access to abortion pills.”
On Thursday, Axios Austin reported on several states that have already cut back on the ability for people to get abortion pills.
“Almost half of U.S. states have banned or tightly restricted abortion pills — two medicines named mifepristone and misoprostol — and more could soon follow suit,” the outlet reported.
- Indiana bans the pills after 10 weeks. So do Oklahoma and Montana, though courts have blocked those laws.
- The Wyoming state Senate passed a bill in March aimed at completely outlawing abortion pills.
- In Iowa and Ohio, laws require a physician to be present when a patient takes the medication. However, federal judges blocked those laws, saying the requirement places an “undue burden” on women.
Abortion pills have been an intense topic of debate in the country for some time, and the discussion was heightened by the coronavirus pandemic.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Supreme Court ruled in January that abortion pills were no longer allowed to be sent through the mail after such restrictions had been lifted during the pandemic, siding with an appeal by the Trump administration.
However, in April, the FDA sent a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) announcing its decision to allow abortion pills to be sent through the mail and prescribed via telemedicine during the COVID-19 health emergency.
The letter confirmed that the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research planned to “exercise enforcement discretion” during the COVID-19 public health emergency regarding the in-person distribution requirement of the chemical abortion medication, as well as the distributing of the drugs through the mail.
In a tweet, ACOG Action explained the letter, writing, “This means that many patients in need of termination of early pregnancy will be able to access safe, effective mifepristone by mail, rather than having to risk avoidable COVID exposure to themselves and their clinicians.”