Apr 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

FDA says patients can access abortion pills via telemedicine

Picture of a box of Mifeprex, an abortion pill

Abortion pill known as RU-486, seen here as Mifeprex. Photo: Newsmakers via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced that patients seeking abortion pills will not be required to obtain the drug from hospitals or medical facilities in person while the coronavirus pandemic persists.

Why it matters: The move will allow women to get prescriptions for mifepristone via telemedicine and receive the drug by mail. The FDA's decision comes as abortion opponents in multiple Republican-led states push legislation to limit access to pregnancy termination methods.

What they're saying: The FDA made the announcement in a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, one of several groups that have filed lawsuits over the in-person rule.

  • The agency said recent studies "do not appear to show increases in serious safety concerns" when women take the medication without visiting a medical center first, according to AP.

The big picture: This is a reversal from the Trump-era federal requirement that obligated women seeking abortion pills to obtain the drug in person. The Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's appeal on the rule in its first ruling on abortion since the arrival of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Of note: "The FDA policy only applies during the COVID-19 health emergency," AP writes. "The obstetricians and gynecologists group and several other medical organizations are pushing to make medication abortion permanently available via online prescribing and mail-order pharmacies."

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