Abortion Pills Can Now Be Bought At Your Local Pharmacy

A label update to commonly used abortion pills will now allow pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS to fulfill prescriptions for it.

By Brian Scheid | Published

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Last year’s controversial Supreme Court decision to repeal the landmark Roe versus Wade decision that, in effect, made abortion a state’s right to choose whether to keep the practice legal or to enact laws to make it illegal in those states. There has been a rush of legislation in conservative-leaning states to ban the practice altogether, forcing women that are considering having an abortion to leave their home state in search of places where they can legally have the right to choose what they feel is in the best interest of their lives. Now the Food and Drug Administration has finalized a change to a previous rule that will increase the ease of access for women to obtain a prescription for Mifeprex, which is commonly known as the abortion pill.

The rule had previously limited the dispensing of the abortion pill to subsets of specialty offices and clinics due to safety concerns regarding the side effect of bleeding that is commonly caused by using this drug. That said, it’s worth noting that serious complication cases of the side effect are extremely rare.

Last year in response to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs Wade, the Biden Administration announced it would no longer enforce a long-standing policy that women need to pick the prescription up in person. This decision, in combination with Tuesday’s formal update of the FDA’s labeling of the abortion pill drug, will open the door for more retail pharmacies, including big chain retailers like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens, to dispense the pills if they can successfully complete a certification process to be eligible to do so.

According to NPR.org, “Still, the rule change’s impact has been blunted by numerous state laws limiting abortion broadly and the pills specifically. Legal experts foresee years of court battles over access to the pills, as abortion-rights proponents bring test cases to challenge state restrictions.” This was a major concern for proponents of repealing the Roe versus Wade decision. There are concerns that because of its overturning many state courts will now be congested with cases challenging the laws those states have enacted, which will cost taxpayers truckloads of money to sort out. 

This impacts other state needs as the funds will be siphoned from state infrastructure improvement projects, public school budgets, and every other priority a state should have for its residents. Although, the FDA’s policy change will not solve access issues being debated in these courtrooms of conservative states. However, it will allow more patients who need a prescription of mifepristone for medicated abortion additional options to obtain the abortion pill.

Back in the year 2000, the FDA initially approved the medication mifepristone to terminate pregnancy up to 10 weeks from conception. Data shows that more than 3.7 million women have used the drug since its approval. The FDA-mandated safety requirements for the abortion pill with remain in effect requiring distributors of the drug to be certified and be available to provide emergency care if the user of the prescription experiences the rare complications of excessive bleeding which is a potential side effect of usage.

This policy shift came about because the two drugmakers of the brand name and a generic version of the abortion pill requested the label update, which is required by the FDA for a company to update a label and modify dispensing requirements. This will surely open up even more debates on the issue of abortion and abortion pills that will now be accessible to more people. As court systems are bogged down sorting out all the details of this debate, only time will tell where those rulings leave women’s rights, especially in those right-leaning conservative states.