The US removes a key restriction to access the abortion pill in the middle of a battle for this right

The Food and Drug Agency of the US (FDA, in English) this Thursday ended a key restriction to access the abortion pill mifepristone, which allows ending the pregnancy in the first weeks, in the middle of the legal battle for abortion in the country.

Specifically, the FDA has decided to remove the requirement that patients have to pick up the abortion pill in person at a hospital or medical facility, thus now can be sent by post.

Mifepristone, which is also known by the brand name Mifeprex, was approved in 2000 by the FDA, and is administered together with another drug, misoprostol, to end the pregnancy during the first 70 days of gestation (10 weeks).

Until now, the FDA required patients to come in person to a hospital or medical facility to pick up mifepristone.

Thanks to this change, the abortion pill will be more available to women. women who have difficulty traveling, since it can be prescribed through telemedicine services.

Earlier this year, the FDA had temporarily suspended the requirement to pick up the pill in person due to the pandemic, but with Thursday’s update it will be permanent.

The decision comes at a time when a battle is being fought in several conservative states of the country, which have imposed restrictions on abortion, and which has reached the Supreme Court.

This matter is very polarized, with conservative states restricting access to abortion and liberals adopting measures to protect this right.

In 19 states, mostly in the South and Midwest, telemedicine consultations about abortion are prohibited, and it is possible that after Thursday’s decision the authorities of these areas will pass legislation to restrict access even more.

Earlier this month the Supreme court decided to leave the practice ban on abortion in force in Texas, which vetoes this intervention at six weeks of gestation, but allows lawsuits against them to be filed in lower courts, in response to a complaint filed by pro-abortion organizations.

The Supreme Court is also currently evaluating a similar law in Mississippi, which prohibits abortion at fifteen weeks of gestation and which constitutes the most decisive cause of pregnancy interruption in recent decades, since here the court must rule on its constitutionality.

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 with its decision ‘Roe vs. Wade’This practice has been allowed in the US until the moment of “viability” of the fetus outside the womb, a limit that is now around 23 or 24 weeks of pregnancy.

The Government of the President of the United States, Joe biden, is one of the parties that has brought Texas law to the Supreme Court.

The relaxation of the federal requirements to access a drug abortion is one of the measures that the Biden Executive can adopt in the face of a possible revocation of ‘Roe v. Wade’ with a Supreme Court ruling in favor of abortion restrictions in Mississippi.

This Thursday’s decision by the FDA is motivated by a lawsuit filed by abortion rights advocates who managed to get a federal court to order last year that the regulator temporarily lift restrictions on abortion. abortion pill regarding the delivery of the drug via postal mail, in the midst of the pandemic.

Previously, the American Civil Liberties Union The ACLU filed a lawsuit in 2017 on behalf of several clinics and organizations that provide abortion services.

In a statement, the ACLU noted that the FDA’s decision comes in a “crisis” moment for reproductive freedom after the Supreme Court ruling last week on Texas, which upheld the abortion veto in this state, and when it appears to be moving towards repealing or undermining “Roe v. Wade.”

The ACLU explained that the FDA sent a letter to the plaintiffs on Thursday to inform that it was lifting the restriction on the abortion pill, a limitation that it described as “medically unnecessary” and “outdated”.

“This requirement (to pick it up) in person has long distinguished patients from mifepristone, without any medical reason “, indicated ACLU, that emphasized that until now this drug was the unique one of the 20,000 approved by the FDA that required to be collected in a medical center.

Despite the lifting of the restriction, the ACLU regretted that the regulator has not eliminated the requirement that patients sign a special document to be prescribed, as well as that doctors who prescribe it have a special certification.

According to data from Guttmacher Institute, an organization that defends reproductive rights, in 2017 a total of 339,640 patients received abortifacient drugs, representing 39% of all abortions that took place that year.

The FDA estimates that 3.7 million women have taken the abortion pill between 2000 and 2018.

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