Abortion pills will be the next battleground in post-egg America

As conservative states have begun to pass more laws restricting access to surgical abortions, more patients have opted for the pills, especially since they can be taken in the privacy of their own home.

The Covid pandemic has fueled that trend. The Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for the right to abortion, reported that in 2020 drug abortion accounted for 54% of all abortions.

At the start of the pandemic, medical groups filed a lawsuit asking the FDA to lift the requirement that mifepristone, which blocks a hormone crucial for the continuation of a pregnancy, be dispensed to patients in person in a clinic or doctor’s office. . Citing years of data showing drug abortion is safe, medical groups said patients were at a greater risk of being infected with the coronavirus if they had to visit clinics to get mifepristone.

For parts of the pandemic, the FDA temporarily lifted the in-person requirement, then permanently removed it In addition, the agency said in December that pharmacies could start dispensing mifepristone if they meet certain qualifications. The agency is finalizing those qualifications with the drug’s two manufacturers, and reproductive health organizations have said that some national retail pharmacy chains have expressed interest in being able to dispense the drug in some states, at least by mail.

The second drug, misoprostol, which causes miscarriage-like contractions and is taken up to 48 hours later, has long been available for a variety of uses with a typical prescription.

A senior Biden administration official said this week that officials are looking for further steps the administration can take to increase access to all types of abortion, including the pill method. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the leaked Supreme Court decision, said President Biden directed his team “in every aspect in every creative way, every aspect of federal law, to try and do everything possible. “to protect just abortion.

As part of this effort, Biden’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, said Wednesday in a testimony before the Senate that he has set up a reproductive health task force.

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