FDA's Change to the 'Abortion Pill' Label Is a Step in Combating Anti-Women Lawmakers

abortion pillA major win for women's reproductive rights this week: The FDA has decided to change the label on the "abortion pill," relaxing previous requirements to access the medication. The new label recommendations will decrease both the dosage of the pill and the amount of doctor visits women have to make in most states to get it, as well as increase the window of time when the medication can be used from 49 to 70 days. 


All of these things will make it easier for women to access procedures, and considering that medication-induced abortions accounted for about a quarter of all abortions in 2011 (the last year measured by the Guttmacher Institute, which collects data having to do with women’s reproductive health issues), this is pretty big news.

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Interestingly, doctors in some states have been prescribing Mifeprex (also known as RU486) in accordance with the new label for quite some time already; many practitioners have said that the original labels were outdated. But certain states, including Texas, North Dakota, and Ohio, passed laws requiring providers to follow the original recommendations (based on clinical evidence from the 1990s), which made it much more difficult for women in those states to get the medication. And these laws were clearly passed as a means of restricting abortion access, as opposed to actually keeping women safe and healthy. Further evidence, which was found after the initial recommendations were written in the 90s, showed that lower doses of the medication were preferable and that a woman could take the medication safely up to 70 days from the beginning of her last menstrual period. 

"This is an important step in the fight against laws that put politics above the health of women," said Janet Krepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights at a briefing, pretty much hitting the nail on the head. Those laws had nothing to do with women's health whatsoever, so it's about time that the FDA got involved in this issue. After all, public health is supposed to be its priority, right? And doctors are calling for these label changes, just as much (if not more so) than patients are. 

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Unfortunately, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 38 states still have other laws that restrict the use of the abortion pill. So there's still a long way to go ... but this is definitely a significant development, to be sure!


Image via kev-shine/Flickr

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