FDA Loosens Limits On Abortion Pill Availability

On December 16, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration removed some limits on the availability of abortion pills. Specifically, the FDA eliminated a requirement that abortion pills be picked up in person. The in-person rule was opposed by the American Medical Association, which reportedly argued that the requirement provided “no clear benefit to patients,” and by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The rule change will allow people to obtain abortion pills online or via mail-order services; sadly, it is likely to result in more pill abortions.

According to the Buffalo News, some limits will still be maintained. For example, physicians will only be allowed to prescribe abortion pills if they certify that they are able to provide emergency medical treatment in the event of heavy bleeding or other side effects. Also, pharmacies that dispense abortion pills will be required to register with the FDA. The FDA argued that requirements like these are necessary because “physicians prescribing the drugs need to ‘have the ability to date pregnancies accurately and to diagnose ectopic pregnancies’ and ‘be able to provide any necessary surgical intervention, or have made arrangements for others to provide for such care’ in the event of a complication.”

In some pro-life states, the impact of this rule change will likely be limited due to state laws barring delivery of abortion pills by mail. Also, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute indicates that 19 states have passed laws requiring that the prescribing physician be present when distributing abortion pills. New York is not among them.