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FDA decision could make getting abortion pills by mail easier

The FDA said it will no longer require women to pickup abortion pills in person, saying there's little scientific evidence for the 20-year-old rule.

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is loosening some restrictions on where women can obtain abortion pills, including a long-standing requirement that the medication be picked up in person.

Officials said Thursday that a scientific review supported broadening access and allowing more pharmacies — including mail-order services— to distribute the medication.

But prescribing will still be limited to doctors who complete special certification. Additionally, the agency said dispensing pharmacies will have to be registered with the agency.

The decision is the latest shift in the polarized legal battle over medication abortion, which has only intensified amid the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is certain to spur legal challenges and restrictions in Republican-led states amid the ongoing battle over abortion.

Earlier this the year the FDA stopped enforcing the in-person dispending requirement because of the pandemic. Under Thursday’s decision, the agency will permanently drop the rule, which has long been opposed by medical societies and pro-abortion groups.

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