FDA Permanently Lifts Pointless Ban On Abortion Pills By Mail

FDA Permanently Lifts Pointless Ban On Abortion Pills By Mail

After months and months and years and years of nothing but bad news for people who don't want to be forced to give birth against their will, we finally have some good news: The FDA has officially approved abortion pills to be prescribed through telehealth providers and mailed to anyone living in the 31 states where doing so is legal.

Medication abortions are a combination of the drugs mifepristone (brand name Mifeprex) and misoprostol (brand name Cytotec). They're a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy up to 70 days after the first missed period — and are in fact the most popular method of abortion in early pregnancy. The FDA has long prohibited mifepristone, the first of the two pills, from being prescribed through telehealth and sent by mail, but these restrictions were temporarily lifted during the COVID pandemic. Given that there is no actual scientific or health-related reason for these regulations, the Biden administration has decided to lift them permanently.

This means that people in areas with few abortion clinics or those who for some other reason are not able to make it out to a clinic or see a doctor in person will have more access to the pill early on in their pregnancy, while it is most likely to be effective. This is a very big deal in terms of expanding access to reproductive health.

Via the New York Times:

The F.D.A. did not issue a formal statement on Thursday, but it updated a web page to reflect the decision and sent letters about the change to the two companies that make mifepristone and to medical groups that had sued over the requirement.

“The agency conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature, relevant safety and adverse event data, and information provided by advocacy groups, individuals and the applicants to reach this decision,” an F.D.A. spokeswoman said.

The FDA has decided to keep two other restrictions on the pill — one requiring that patients sign a form saying their provider has given them information about the drug, and another requiring that they only be prescribed by a specially certified health provider. The latter is another regulation that makes no actual medical sense, as physicians, physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners have long been prescribing the pills in Canada with no ill effects whatsoever, but baby steps.

The Susan B. Anthony List, a group of anti-choice zealots who claim to be "feminists" and yet for some reason have absolutely no interest in any feminist issues beyond using Susan B. Anthony's name to promote their anti-choice nonsense, suggested that lifting this restriction could possibly lead to people abusing the medications.

“The Biden administration today moved to weaken longstanding federal safety regulations against mail-order abortion drugs designed to protect women from serious health risks and potential abuse,” said a statement from the group Susan B. Anthony List. “The Biden administration policy allows for dangerous at-home, do-it-yourself abortions without necessary medical oversight.”

Does the Susan B. Anthony List think people are getting high off of abortion drugs? Or that teenagers are going to run out and get pregnant just for the thrill of having a medication abortion? What do they imagine would be occurring here?

Most drugs that the FDA prohibits from being prescribed via telehealth or sent through the mail are prohibited for actual health-related reasons, i.e., they're drugs that can be addictive, that can be overdosed on, or that can have negative interactions with other medications. This is not the case with medication abortions, and despite what the Susan B. Anthony List might like people to believe, people are not regularly OD'ing on Mifeprex. That's not a thing.

Unlike those other drugs, the regulations on medication abortions have been entirely political in nature, and exist only because people who don't like abortion want it to be as difficult as possible for people to get abortions. However, it should not be the FDA's job to regulate things based on what people want politically. That is not their job. It is their job to determine whether or not something is safe and people's very special personal feelings about abortion really should not enter into it.

[New York Times]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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