Abortion advocates had cause for celebration in the first week of 2023 as the FDA loosened its regulations on mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortions. The rule change allows for the medication to be prescribed by licensed healthcare providers over telehealth and to be dispensed through a wider range of certified pharmacies, either in store or by mail. Previously, the FDA’s policies greatly limited access to the drug by requiring in person administration at a clinic with specially certified prescribers and pharmacies. Allowing pregnant individuals to simply walk into their local pharmacy and pick up their pills is vital to ensure that everyone has control over their own body and reproductive decisions.
Mifepristone was developed in France in the 1980s and has long since been deemed as a safe and effective method of medical abortion. When used in combination with misoprostol, there is a 97% success rate during the first 63 days of a pregnancy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, medication abortion accounts for over 60% of abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and over 3.7 million women in the US have used mifepristone since its approval by the FDA.
Despite the widely confirmed safety of this drug, mifepristone was subjected to the FDA’s strict Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, restricting its availability. However, in 2021, the Biden administration announced the FDA would be conducting a substantive review of these restrictions following a lawsuit by the ACLU, leading to the removal of the outdated barriers to care.
While increasing access to mifepristone is valuable progress, millions of individuals who live in states with abortion bans in place are still left without options following the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The fight for reproductive justice must continue until everyone has full bodily autonomy.
Sources: Guttmacher Institute; Ms. Magazine 5/11/2021; Forbes 1/4/2023