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FDA Allows Women to Get Abortion Pill by Mail

USAToday: “The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that it would permanently remove a key restriction on medication used to terminate pregnancies, allowing so-called “abortion pills” to be available by mail and prescribed through telehealth medical consultations.  The FDA had temporarily allowed the medication to be available in such methods after a federal judge ordered it due to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about virus exposure in health care settings. Now, the agency says it will leave those new policies in place – a key move by the Biden administration as the Supreme Court considers monumental cases that could limit abortion rights across the country.  The FDA, which first approved medical abortion in 2000, had always required the pills could only be prescribed after an in-person visit with a doctor. Women who are up to 10 weeks pregnant could received the medication.  FDA officials said a scientific review supported widening access, including no longer limiting dispensing to a small number of specialty clinics and doctor’s offices. But prescribers will still need to undergo certification and training. Additionally, the agency said dispensing pharmacies will have to be certified. There are two pills approved by the FDA to end a pregnancy, mifepristone and misoprostol, as a safe alternative to a medical procedure. When a person has been prescribed a medication abortion, they will first take the mifepristone, which blocks the body’s ability to absorb its own progesterone, a necessary hormone for a pregnancy to grow. Then the person will take the misoprostol up to 48 hours later, which will cause cramping and bleeding emptying the uterus. Medical providers have said the process is similar to a miscarriage. While the use of the medication has steadily increased since it was first approved in 2000, surgical abortions have remained more popular in part because medication abortions are typically more expensive and can only be performed during the first few months of pregnancy. But an onslaught of new regulations, shuttered abortion clinics and rulings by the Supreme Court could leave people looking to terminate a pregnancy with no other option…”

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