Abortion Pills Can Now Be Offered at Pharmacies

Access to abortion pills may get a little easier thanks to a regulatory change enacted by the US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday, January 3.

Per The New York Times, mifepristone, the first of two FDA-approved medications used in self-managed abortions, has been approved for sale at local pharmacies as well as national chains like CVS and Walgreens. Under the new rules, the pharmacies must agree to specific criteria, and patients will still need a prescription from their health care provider. 

However, this is expected to significantly improve access to self-managed abortions. Previously mifepristone was available only at clinics, doctors’ offices, and, during the pandemic, from mail-order pharmacies

In April 2021, the FDA temporarily lifted the requirement that patients seeking mifepristone meet with a provider in person; this allowed for the use of telehealth abortion services, in which providers mailed prescriptions to patients after an online consultation. Later that year, in December 2021, the FDA revealed its intention to permanently lift the in-person requirement, which they did on Tuesday.

Two requirements for obtaining abortion pills remain, according to the FDA: Health care providers must meet specific qualifications and demonstrate their ability to treat patients seeking abortions, and patients must sign a consent form. 

As for conservative states that may refuse to allow mifepristone to be prescribed, the FDA says it is coordinating with the US Department of Justice and others across the government. “Any questions regarding preemption of state law should be directed to the Department of Justice,” the FDA said in a question-and-answer section on its site about the new regulations.

Tuesday’s decision is just one step the federal government is taking to protect abortion access across the country following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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