An over-the-counter abortion pill has sparked controversy in the US

Health officials said retail pharmacies in the U.S. will be allowed to sell abortion pills, a step that could greatly expand access to the procedure after last year's landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down federal abortion rights.

Regulatory changes announced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mean that mifepristone, the first of two drugs used to terminate the pregnancy, will be available at local pharmacies in states where abortion is legal.

A prescription will be required to obtain the pills, which until now were only available from a few mail-order pharmacies or from certified doctors and clinics.

Demand for the abortion pill surged after the conservative-dominated Supreme Court handed down a historic ruling in June last year that overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed women’s abortion rights for half a century.

Experts say abortion pills are now used in more than half of all pregnancy-termination procedures in the U.S., and that since the controversial Supreme Court decision, they have increasingly become a focus of the political and legal battle over abortion rights.

Pharmacies will need to be certified to dispense the drug, and patients will need to fill out a consent form.

The FDA’s decision was welcomed by the American Civil Liberties Union. “We are pleased that the FDA has increased pharmacy access to this safe and effective drug, relieving one of the agency’s unnecessary burdens on mifepristone patients,” said Julia Kay of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List, denounced the decision.

“The Biden administration has proven once again that it values the profits of the abortion industry over the safety of women and the lives of unborn children,” Dannenfelser said in a statement. , AFP

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