The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permanently changed its distribution guidance for abortion pills Mifeprex and the generic version, Mifepristone.
The FDA no longer requires people to obtain the pills in person. The change in guidance will allow people to receive the drug by mail.
Those seeking the abortion pills will still need a prescription, which can be obtained in person or through a telemedicine consultation.
“It’s really significant,” Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, told The New York Times. “Telehealth abortions are much easier for both providers and patients, and even in states that want to do it, there have been limits on how available it is.”
The FDA suspended the in-person dispensing requirement for Mifeprex and Mifepristone during the COVID-19 public
health emergency. Thursday's decision makes the policy permanent.
The FDA's action comes as abortion rights are being rolled back. In Texas, abortions are banned after about six weeks.
The Supreme Court also heard arguments last month about a 2018 Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks. Several justices appeared to signal they would uphold the ban.
Denver7 contacted several nonprofits, organizations and groups that either support or oppose abortion. The below statements were provided.
"We are absolutely thrilled to see that the FDA has lifted the restrictions on medication abortion," said Jaki Lawrence of COBALT. "We are absolutely ecstatic to see anything that that lifts a barrier to care."
Focus on the Family, a Christian organization against abortion, called the decision "heartbreaking."
"The FDA’s authorization of abortion pills by mail is a heartbreaking turn for an agency that was originally created in order to protect the health and safety of Americans. In announcing this decision, the agency is blatantly derelict in its duty and overseeing the destruction and not the preservation of innocent human life."
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains President and CEO Vicki Cowart called the FDA's announcement "a victory for health equity." The organization said it proudly offers medication abortion via telehealth to eligible patients.
"The FDA has followed the science, listened to the medical community, reviewed the overwhelming evidence and announced the removal of a sometimes insurmountable barrier for people seeking an abortion. Today’s decision is a positive step toward increased abortion access at a time when so much uncertainty surrounds our constitutional right to abortion. While the FDA’s decision is not a solution to the abortion bans and restrictions enacted across the country, it’s one way to make it easier for patients in some states to access safe, legal abortion care."
The Archdiocese of Denver quoted Pope Francis in a statement saying, "Abortion is murder… It’s a human life, period. This human life must be respected."
"As a society we must work so that women experiencing unplanned pregnancies are shown compassion and care," their statement continues. "Mothers must also be provided the necessary resources and support through services like Catholic Charities, Marisol Health and other pro-life ministries so that innocent lives are not needlessly ended.”
Denver7 report CB Cotton contributed to this report.