For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 16, 2021
Washington, DC — Today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that—after reviewing the outdated Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for mifepristone— the burdensome in-person dispensing requirement will be permanently lifted. Mifepristone is one of two medications used in the medication abortion regimen. This welcome news comes after years of advocacy by reproductive health, rights, and justice groups, including NARAL, urging the FDA to follow the science and review these unnecessary restrictions. While the FDA will retain other medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion care, today’s announcement is a major step in the right direction.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju released the following statement in response:
“Today’s FDA announcement is an important step in the right direction in our fight for abortion access—but there is still more work needed to ensure everybody can access the care they need. For too long, medication abortion care has been subject to outdated federal restrictions that push access to care out of reach for many—and particularly for those who already face the greatest barriers to accessing care. We are glad to see the FDA permanently lift the in-person dispensing requirement and we look forward to continuing to work to ensure that all outdated and medically-unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion care are lifted.”
Medication abortion care is a safe, effective, and FDA-approved option for ending an early pregnancy. Earlier this year, a coalition of reproductive health, rights, and justice groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, sent petitions signed by over 200,000 supporters and a letter signed by 55 organizations asking the Biden-Harris administration to take immediate action to expand access to medication abortion. The letter called for the immediate suspension of the FDA’s in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone during the pandemic, as well as a comprehensive review of the FDA’s outdated and unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone. On April 12th, the FDA announced that it would suspend enforcement of a restriction that forced people to travel to a hospital, clinic, or medical office to access medication abortion care during the COVID-19 pandemic. On May 7th, 2021, the FDA announced that a comprehensive review of the outdated and medically unnecessary REMS for mifepristone was underway. Today’s announcement includes the results of that review.
Medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion care disproportionately harm Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; those in rural areas; and those with low incomes. Pregnant people should be able to have medication abortion prescribed by their healthcare provider, either during an in-person visit or through telemedicine, and then be able to receive their medications in the way that makes the most sense for them, in consultation with their provider—whether that is at a health center, their local pharmacy, or delivered to their home.
In the midst of this important announcement, abortion access in the United States is under attack. Anti-choice politicians in states across the country have launched targeted attacks on medication abortion care in an effort to undermine access.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case, regarding Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, directly challenges Roe. Any ruling that upholds Mississippi’s ban will overturn Roe’s core protections and our constitutional right to make decisions about our lives, families, and futures.
For over 50 years, NARAL Pro-Choice America has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, paid family leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination—for every body. NARAL is powered by its more than 2.5 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.