On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it will lift a measure that patients seeking a medication abortion must pick up the pills in person after having a consultation. Now, the pills can be sent by mail.
Medication abortion terminates a fetus in a two-pill process and has become a top way to conduct an abortion. Both pro-life and pro-choice groups see the issue as the next crucial point of the fight on either side of abortion as everyone awaits the Supreme Court ruling over a Mississippi case.
The case, dealing with a law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, could overturn the 1973 landmark ruling of Roe v. Wade. “This question,” said the legislative director of Texas Right to Life, John Seago, “about abortion inducing drugs is really kind of the next phase of the fight over abortion.”
The two-pill process, mifepristone coupled with misoprostol, was first approved by the FDA in 2000, and it did not immediately change abortion access the way many abortion advocates had hoped. But now, the method has grown, making up over half the abortions that occur prior to nine weeks in pregnancy.
While the in person pick up requirement has been dropped by the FDA, other regulations were left in place like requiring abortion patients to sign an additional form for a medication abortion. Clinicians also must pre-register with a manufacturer of the drug before it can be prescribed.
Since the Supreme Court has hinted at the probability of overturning the Roe ruling, abortion advocates are saying the FDA’s choice will mitigate the outcome of a reversal.
“The FDA’s decision eliminating its unnecessary in-person requirement did not come a moment too soon,” said ACLU attorney Julia Kaye. But 19 states, including Texas, have laws that override the FDA decision, barring telehealth consultation or the mailing of abortion pills.
ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS