In data released last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42% of all abortions – and 54% of abortions before 10 weeks – occurred with medication in 2019, the most recent year for which CDC data is available. (The report represents most of the country, but does not include data from California, Maryland, and New Hampshire.)
As of 2020, in some states, including Indiana, Kansas and Minnesota, the method accounts for the majority of abortions, according to reports from the state’s health department.
The CDC also reported that 79% of all abortions took place before 10 weeks gestation, suggesting that there are many more women who could choose abortion pills over an in-clinic procedure if they could. .
Medical abortion, a two-drug regimen, was approved in the United States in 2000. The FDA has placed restrictions on the first drug, mifepristone, requiring it to be dispensed in clinics or hospitals by doctors. specially certified providers, who must sign a specific agreement and obtain the patient’s signature on a form acknowledging that their supplier has informed them of the drug. The rules allowed patients to take mifepristone at home or anywhere, making it the only drug the agency required patients to obtain in person from a medical provider, but are not required to take under medical supervision, according to experts.
The second drug, misoprostol, which is taken for up to 48 hours after the first, has long been available by prescription in pharmacies.
Mainstream medical organizations and abortion rights groups have long urged the government to ease restrictions on mifepristone, citing data indicating that mifepristone is effective and safe, including when delivered by mail .
For example, a research program that the FDA cleared to provide telemedicine consultations and mail pills reported that 95% of the 1,157 abortions that occurred under the program between May 2016 and September 2020 were performed without require follow-up procedure. Patients made 70 emergency room or emergency care center visits, with 10 cases of serious complications, the study reported.