Written by: Maya Galinsky
A crack in the window for abortion rights.
The US FDA will now enable retail pharmacies to carry the abortion pill, Mifepristone, for the first time in history. This revision makes way for local drugstores and chains like CVS and Walgreens to provide the medication. Before the changes made on January 3, 2023, Mifepristone was only dispensed by clinics, and doctors, having to be in person. However, things began to shift in 2021 when COVID-19 sprung into action. In encouraging people to remain at home, the FDA allowed the pills to deliver via mail and no longer required people to receive the drug in person at a medical facility. Guttmacher Institue, a research and policy organization focusing on advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) worldwide, found:
“That medication abortion accounted for 54% of all abortions in the US” (Jones et al., 2022).
What is Mifepristone?
Mifepristone is a two-drug regimen commonly used to induce abortion. Being the first pill, Mifepristone is taken alongside a second drug called Misoprostol. The abortion pill can be taken within 10-12 weeks of pregnancy (after the first day of the last menstrual period) to induce what is known as medication abortion. Misoprostol is accessible at drugstores with a prescription since it deals with miscarriage management.
Great, the US FDA made a path...What now?
Now that this change is feasible, what is the next step? To make the possibility become a reality to see Mifepristone behind the pharmacy’s counter, the responsibility for this reality lies in the hands of pharmacies. All pharmacies, from large chains to local drugstores, can apply for certification. During this process, they must prove that they have the proper knowledge and ability to treat abortion patients and ensure to hand patients a consent form. Only then can a pharmacy directly service customers with a prescription from a certified prescriber. Optimistically, CVS and Walgreens have both stated they are reviewing the new requirements.
Information regarding the states who ban abortion
Over a dozen states have a complete abortion ban, meaning that their abortion ban has no exceptions for rape, incest and no gestational limit. It is unclear what the provisions will be for women who live in these states. It appears to be that women who reside in these states will likely have to travel to legal states to get their hands on medication abortion.
This rule change by the Biden administration makes waves following the US Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. This political action sets a clear stand for pro-abortion and infuriates anyone who’s anti-abortion. Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the anti-abortion group SBA Pro-Life America, states:
“State lawmakers and Congress must stand as a bulwark against the Biden administration’s pro-abortion extremism” (Weiland, 2021).
This new change significantly expands access to abortion through medication. It feels like the first win for women since the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Although the FDA’s announcement is not a fix-for-all, it is the first milestone that sets women’s rights back in the just direction.
Biden Officials End Ban on Abortion Referrals at Federally Funded …. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/04/us/politics/abortion-biden-trump.html
Jones, Rachel, et al. “Medication Abortion Now Accounts for More than Half of All US Abortions.” Guttmacher Institute, 22 Feb. 2022, www.guttmacher.org/article/2022/02/medication-abortion-now-accounts-more-half-all-us-abortions
Perez, K. D., Evan. (2023, January 4). FDA to allow pharmacies to dispense abortion pills to patients | CNN Politics. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2023/01/03/politics/fda-abortion-drugs-pharmacies-mail/index.html
Research, C. for D. E. and. (2023). Information about Mifepristone for Medical Termination of Pregnancy Through Ten Weeks Gestation. FDA. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/information-about-mifepristone-medical-termination-pregnancy-through-ten-weeks-gestation
US FDA clears path for pharmacies to sell abortion pills. (2023, January 4). BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-64159614?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA
Weiland, N. (2021, October 4). Biden Officials End Ban on Abortion Referrals at Federally Funded Clinics. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/04/us/politics/abortion-biden-trump.html