The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released guidelines that make it easier to access Mifeprex, a pill that induces abortion.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently relaxed the guidelines for accessing a pill that induces abortions, sparking aspects of a debate that continues to rage between political camps throughout the country. According to a report from the New York Times, the new guidelines will allow women to access the drug further along during a pregnancy, and attend fewer doctor visits to do so.
People fighting for abortion rights in far-right states like Texas, North Dakota and Ohio welcome the new guidelines as a huge victory. These states require the prescribing doctor to follow the directions on the label written by the FDA, which prevented access to the drug in medically safe situations.
The new change is more in line with the laws currently standing in the majority of states. The recommended dosage was reduced from 600 to 200 mg, and a woman must now only visit the doctor twice instead of three times. The window of opportunity for taking the medication was also increased from seven to ten weeks of pregnancy.
The drug, previously called RU-486, has caused serious debate over the past decades. Abortion rights advocates called for increased access to the drug, which can terminate an unwanted pregnancy in a non-invasive manner. Limiting access to the drug has been one of the primary goals of anti-abortion groups, seeking to restrict the practice in any way possible.
According to Suzanne B. Goldberg, a professor of law at Columbia University, “This is a major shift both in closing the gap between science and legal regulation and in enabling women to exercise their constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.”
Anti-abortion groups disagreed, saying that the guideline changes did little to protect the health and safety of women. Randall O’Bannon, the director of education and research at the National Right to Life Committee said, “It appears this has been done for the convenience and the profitability of the abortion industry.”
As the debate rages, on the FDA hopes to continue to rely on hard scientific evidence to make informed decisions about which medications are safe and which are not.
An FDA press release describing the details of the recent guidelines can be found here.