FDA to permanently allow abortion pills by mail

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."

  • Abortion rights activists are heralding abortion pills as a potential option in places where clinics may have to close if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

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:

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