Topline

The Biden Administration will allow patients to be prescribed and sent medicine that induces abortion without visiting a doctor in-person through the remainder of the pandemic, reversing a Trump-era curb on accessing abortion services.

Key Facts

Food and Drug Administration acting commissioner Janet Woodcock shared the changes Monday in a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, writing that an FDA review found taking mifepristone, also known as the abortion pill, without having an in-person doctor’s appointment first did not appear to result in “increases in serious safety concerns.”

Under the new temporary FDA policy, patients will be able to be prescribed mifepristone by a telemedicine appointment and then recieve their doses by mail, which the FDA says will reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.

The new policy is a reversal of a former President Donald Trump’s move to revive a requirement that patients pick up their abortion pills in-person, which was backed up by the Supreme Court early this year, after lower courts successfully challenged the FDA’s in-person policy early on in the pandemic.

Crucial Quote

“We are pleased to see mifepristone regulated on the basis of the scientific evidence during the pandemic, rather than political bias against comprehensive reproductive health care,” the ACOG said in a statement, adding the group will encourage lawmakers to extend the policy post-pandemic.

Chief Critic

Anti-abortion groups have criticized the FDA’s policy switch, saying it will lead to more abortions and that the lack of in-person care will be more dangerous for patients. Students For Life, an anti-abortion nonprofit group that operates on university campuses, said in a statement Biden’s legacy will be “catastrophic loss of life by mail.”

Key Background

A two-dose regimen of hormone blocker misoprostol and mifepristone is a common way to induce abortions in early pregnancies. Research indicates it is an overwhelmingly popular choice to terminate early pregnancies. A 2017 study by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research firm, estimated 60% of eligible patients opt for the abortion pill over other methods.