The FDA has eased regulations on the controversial abortion pill

By Rachel Jacoby Zoldan
Updated: March 30, 2016

In a big development today, the FDA made it easier for you to get your hands on the abortion pill, also known as Mifeprex or RU-486. Although the pill came onto the market about 15 years ago, regulations made it hard to actually get it.

Specifically, the new changes reduce the number of doctor trips you need to make from three to two (in most states). The changes also allow you to take the pill up to 70 days after the start date of your last period, compared to the previous cut-off of 49 days. (Related: How Risky Are Abortions, Anyway?)

What's really interesting, though, is that the FDA also changed the recommended dosage of Mifeprex from 600 milligrams to 200. Not only did most doctors think the previous dosage was too high, but abortion rights activists also claimed the higher dosage increased the cost and the side effects associated with the procedure. However, most doctors had already begun prescribing a reduced dosage, something known as off-label use. But now, states including North Dakota, Texas, and Ohio (the last of which just defunded Planned Parenthood), which had stringently used the on-label dosage only, have no choice but to adopt the new regulations and offer the lower dose. (More good news! Unwanted Pregnancy Rates Are the Lowest They've Been In Years.)

Many consider these lightened regulations a victory for abortion rights activists who have been fighting for a more inclusive take on healthcare for women. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement saying they were "pleased that the updated FDA-approved regimen for mifepristone reflects the current available scientific evidence and best practices." And other experts agree. "It's refreshing to see the progression of the FDA on women's health issues," says Kelley Kitely, L.C.S.W. an advocate for women's health rights. "Women can be under such distress when deciding to terminate a pregnancy, these new requirements give women a little more breathing room and flexibility as they weigh their options."



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