The FDA has decided it will permanently allow abortion pills to be mailed to patients in all 50 states, expanding access even as Roe is under fire
This is a frightening year for anyone who’s pro-choice. A number of extremely restrictive abortion laws have made their way to the Supreme Court, which is widely expected to impose harsh new limitations on Roe v. Wade, if it doesn’t overturn the ruling altogether. But amid the fear that women will soon lose important agency to make their own healthcare decisions, there is hope: The FDA just made a new rule that will permanently allow abortion pills to be distributed to patients by mail in all 50 states.
The new rule will help more women and people in need of abortions to access abortion pills. In many cases, it could help them circumvent harsh restrictions in states like Texas, which made one of the anti-abortion laws that’s being challenged in the courts, and which also has strict regulation around abortion pills, requiring women to pick up the medication in person and banning prescribing it during a telehealth appointment.
The loosening of restrictions around mailing abortion pills started during the pandemic, when the FDA temporarily allowed more patients to access the pills via mail while many medical facilities were closed to non-emergency visits or overwhelmed with COVID patients. The FDA’s temporary rules allowed anyone in any U.S. state to be prescribed mifepristone and misoprostol via a telehealth visit, and then have the pills mailed to them. The two pills, when taken together, can end an early-term pregnancy. They were approved by the FDA in 2016 for use in ending pregnancies up to 70 days gestation.
While this move will help expand access for many women, it’s still important to note that this isn’t a replacement for Roe, should the Supreme Court overturn the ruling. The FDA only allows abortion pills to be used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy — early enough that some women still don’t even know they’re pregnant, especially in the case of birth control failure. While this move will help more women, especially in restrictive states, have access to healthcare they need, it’s not enough — we still have a fight ahead of us as the Supreme Court aims to gut our existing rights.