This could easily be considered one of the biggest policy decisions on the topic of abortion access in decades!
Today the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a substantial policy change when it comes to abortion access by allowing easier access to a pill that induces early abortions.
First approved by the FDA in 2000, the pill is called Mifeprex and is taken in conjunction with Misoprostol to end early pregnancy for those who take it. The FDA’s new policy allows the Mifeprex to be taken up to 10 weeks in a woman’s pregnancy, compared to the previous time of only seven weeks. Another major change comes in that fewer doctor’s visits would be required to gain access to the pill, but a prescription would still be required. Many pro-choice advocates applauded the ruling from the FDA today, saying that it not only expanded contraception to many more women that would be in need of the pill, but also updated regulations with current medical standards.
For those that don’t know, many states like Texas and Ohio were trying to limit access to the pill by making providers adhere to the outdated medical standards on the FDA labels, which conveniently haven’t been updated since the 90’s! This in turn put doctors in a precarious position of practicing “off-label use”, which in this case was going against state law, even though for other medications it’s traditionally known as a common practice among physicians.
Groups like the Guttmacher Institute, who track trends in woman’s reproductive issues, have estimated that medication abortions accounted for a quarter of all abortions in 2011. So if that is the case, then today’s FDA ruling is no doubt a significant one! With many cases currently in higher courts – including one in the Supreme Court – over abortion access, this could be one of the more significant policy decisions that have happened on the subject of abortion access in over two decades!
While there will be push-back from some conservative state legislatures, today marks a major step forward for many Pro-choice and women’s groups.
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