The FDA's New Rule Change For Abortion Pills Is A Huge Win For Reproductive Rights

Shockwaves rippled across the entire world when Roe v. Wade was overturned by the United States Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, after nearly five decades, as reported by NPR. Suddenly, American women were no longer guaranteed reproductive freedom as a constitutional right. In the nearly seven months since the decision, legal abortion has been completely banned in thirteen states and has become severely restricted in about a dozen others. Less than half of U.S. states have protected the legal right to abortion on the state level (via the Center for Reproductive Rights).


As women continue to scramble to find ways to protect their own reproductive health, many have been forced to consider alternative options such as doubling up on contraceptive methods, utilizing emergency contraception, and seeking out medication abortions. According to Planned Parenthood, medication abortion refers to the process of inducing the termination of a pregnancy through the use of an oral medication, commonly known as an abortion pill. On January 3, 2023, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that access to these medications had been affected by a rule modification. Here's what you need to know. 

Mifepristone now available in pharmacies

In order to effectively end a pregnancy using medication, a combination of two drugs called mifepristone and misoprostol must be taken, one after the other. Prior to January 3, 2023, mifepristone, the drug taken to initiate the medication abortion, could only be prescribed by certified physicians and was only available for dispensing by certified offices, clinics, and specialty mail-order pharmacies. After January 3, 2023, mifepristone can be dispensed by any pharmacy — in-person or through mail order— that accepts prescriptions, as detailed on the official FDA website.


This means that you can fill a prescription for mifepristone at any local Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid, or family-owned pharmacy that carries the drug. You won't necessarily have to find a way to travel to a certified pharmacy to pick up the pills. It's even now possible to be prescribed the medication by a doctor during an online or telemedicine appointment and have it mailed to your home by any pharmacy that offers mail delivery. 

What this rule modification really means for women

Since a medication-induced abortion is only available as an option for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, the recent FDA rule modification greatly increases accessibility for many. Lack of financial stability is one of the most common reasons women give for choosing to end a pregnancy, as reported by PBS. Unfortunately, it is also one of the main obstacles many will face when trying to obtain an abortion. Someone choosing to terminate their pregnancy due to financial insecurity is unlikely to be able to afford to travel to a certified clinic to obtain mifepristone in the few weeks between finding out they're pregnant and the 10-week cutoff for a medication abortion. Now, those affected can potentially pick up the prescription in their own neighborhood (via The Washington Post).


Easier access to medication-induced abortion in states where the procedure is still legal doesn't solve the overall problem posed by the governmental onslaught on women's reproductive rights. It does, however, mean that more individual people who can become pregnant will be able to access safe and legal abortion services, and that is worth celebrating today.