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Activists prepare to take abortion pill while demonstrating in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices hear hear arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it will issue new guidance that will make abortion pills more accessible in some states, even after the pandemic.

Why it matters: The move makes permanent pandemic-era guidance that allowed people to access the medication through telemedicine and receive the pills by mail, where permitted by state law. Before the FDA temporarily changed the rule due to the pandemic, people were required to go to doctor's offices, hospitals or clinics to receive the mifepristone abortion pill.

Details: The FDA said it will remove the requirement that mifepristone "be dispensed only in certain healthcare settings, specifically clinics, medical offices, and hospitals."

  • It will add a requirement that says pharmacies that dispense the drug "be specially certified."

Yes, but: The abortion pill is either heavily restricted or banned in almost half of U.S. states, and more could follow suit.

Still, abortion pill advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, say the move will enable "patients to end their pregnancies as soon as they are ready, without needless costs and burdens."

What they're saying: "From the person living in a rural community hundreds of miles from the nearest clinic to the patient who wants to access this essential care in the privacy and comfort of their home, the FDA’s decision will come as a tremendous relief for countless abortion and miscarriage patients," Georgeanne Usova, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, said in a statement.

Flashback: The FDA initially temporarily changed the guidance in April in response to an ACLU lawsuit that argued accessing the drug in person during a pandemic put "unnecessary risks of contracting COVID-19."

Go deeper: Red states crack down on abortion pills

Read the FDA's decision:

Go deeper

Jan 13, 2022 - Health

Democratic Reps call on FDA to revise blood donation policy for gay men

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

LGBTQ advocates and Congress members are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to revise its blood donor policy on sexually active gay and bisexual men as the country faces a blood shortage.

Why it matters: The FDA requires gay and bisexual men abstain from same-sex sexual activity for 90 days in order to donate blood.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.