FRIDAY, Dec. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Access to abortion pills by mail was made permanent by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday.
Patients will be able to have a telemedicine appointment with a provider who can prescribe the pills and send them to the patient by mail, the FDA said in new guidance issued Thursday.
Earlier this year, the FDA said that for the duration of the pandemic, it would temporarily lift the in-person requirement on mifepristone. The new announcement on Thursday makes that decision permanent, The New York Times reported.
“This decision follows the science, something we could only hope for from our nation’s regulatory body on medications. And the science shows that medication abortion care is safe to administer via telehealth," Jamila Perritt, M.D., president and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health, said in a statement. "We knew this before the pandemic, and during this ongoing public health emergency, telehealth became a critical way for health care providers to offer this essential care while we all attempted to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 virus. This should have always been an option for pregnant patients and we’re relieved this is now possible."
Nineteen states ban telemedicine visits for medication abortion. Currently, women in states that do not allow telemedicine for abortion must travel to a state that does, but they do not need to go to a clinic. They just have to be at any location in the state -- even a car -- for their telehealth visit and can get the pills sent to any address in that state, The Times reported.
Medication was used in 42 percent of all abortions and 54 percent of abortions before 10 weeks in the United States in 2019, according to data released last month from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is the most recent year for which CDC data are available, The Times reported.
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