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FDA Expands Access to Medication Abortion

Erin Maye Quade, UnRestrict Minnesota Campaign Director

On April 12th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expanded access to medication abortion via telehealth and lifted the medically unnecessary requirement that patients be seen in person before receiving this time-sensitive care. Medical organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association have urged the FDA to make this change – even before the pandemic.

This announcement by the FDA removes a significant barrier to access for many Minnesotans who struggled to get the abortion care they need, because of the in-person requirements.

These changes mean that patients will no longer have to travel long distances to receive medication abortion care. Like other abortion restrictions, the in-person requirement disproportionately harmed people of color, people who live in rural areas, and those struggling to make ends meet – and this harm was only exacerbated by the pandemic.

Evidence shows that making medication abortion available via telehealth visits is as safe and effective as an in-person visit. Patient health and safety are protected – even more so now since telehealth eliminates unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 – and access to care is improved.

We should all be able to get the medication we need, in consultation with our health care providers, in the way that makes the most sense — whether that is at a doctor’s office, a local pharmacy, or the mailbox outside our door.

UnRestrict Minnesota welcomes this important and needed step forward. We urge the FDA to continue to review the medical evidence and scientific data, and permanently lift unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion.

After 20 years, it’s time.