Well, there are about to be a lot of angry people out there. The Food and Drug Administration announced that Americans can now receive abortion pills via mail for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA’s acting commissioner Janet Woodcock, MD, wrote that the Center for Drug Evaluation Research has found that there was no increase in serious safety concern for any individual taking mifepristone, which is one of two pills needed for a medication abortion from the comfort of their own home.
Women will need to get an appointment with telemedicine and then receive the pills by mail. The first drug they will take is mifepristone, followed by the drug misoprostol 24 to 48 hours later. The long-awaited decision comes after a near-year-long battle between the Supreme Court and the FDA. Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the FDA’s previous restrictions on abortion pills. The organization had written that forcing their patients to travel to clinics, hospitals, or any other medical centers in order to pick up mifepristone posed a life-threatening risk and unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
Mail-In Abortion Pills Approved
BREAKING: ACOG win! The @US_FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock has notified @ACOG and @MySMFM that the agency will "exercise enforcement discretion" regarding #mifepristone through the duration of the #COVID19 public health emergency. 1/ pic.twitter.com/PDpJ7000bc
— ACOG Action (@ACOGAction) April 13, 2021
The federal district court had ruled in favor of the ACLU in July 2020, but in January, at the request of the Trump Administration, the Supreme Court reversed the decision. In favor of the pill, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had argued that restraining the FDA’s in-person requirement “imposes a necessary, irrational, and unjustifiable burden” on those exercising the right to an abortion during a dangerous Public Health crisis.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the long system problem. Abortion in the United States has become more limited for women with certain States requiring mandatory counseling or parental consent, barring private insurance plans from covering abortion, and implementing limits. But access is one of the biggest barriers patients are facing.
The Abortion Pill | Planned Parenthood Video
According to a study from the Guttmacher Institute back in 2019, nearly one out of five patients traveled over 50 miles in order to receive an abortion, usually since there are no nearby clinics. In 25 States, individuals have to wait 24 hours between a pre-procedure counseling session and then the procedure itself, which forces women to make two separate trips.
These restrictions harm people who are located in rural areas and people who are unable to travel sometimes out of state in order to get a safe procedure. In the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, the restrictions also impact the people who lived in places that were hit hard by their financial situations.
Ilyse Hougue: “Good News This Morning”
Biden's FDA lifting this rule will have material impact, ease stress and create more access for those who need abortion. It's a big deal. It also is a testament to hard work of so many–including @NARAL members–who have fought hard for access and for science-centered policy.
— Ilyse Hogue (@ilyseh) April 13, 2021
Ilyse Hougue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America praised the Biden Administration and the FDA for making the decision. Hogue wrote on Twitter, “Trump alarmist prescriptions to go through the mail during the pandemic, even highly addictive once, but kept the medication ruined place. Not for science, for punishment. Vitamins FDA lifting this rule will have material impact, East stress and create more access for those who need an abortion. It’s a big deal.”