THURSDAY, Feb. 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — An increase in telemedicine during the pandemic and easier access to prescription drugs to end a pregnancy may help explain why more than half of abortions in the United States are now performed with a combination of drugs instead of surgery, the researchers report.
The percentage of abortions performed with U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved mifepristone pills rose from about 44% in 2019 to 54% in 2020, according to preliminary figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to abortion.
Two factors may have contributed to the rise in the use of prescription pills for abortions, suggested Guttmacher researcher Rachel Jones. During the pandemic, there was an increase in the use of telemedicine, and the FDA began allowing abortion pills to be sent to patients instead of requiring in-person visits to obtain them, a change that has become permanent last December. This means millions of women can now get a prescription through an online consultation and receive the pills in the mail.
The FDA approved mifepristone in 2000, and the use of abortion pills has increased since then.
Abortion opponents have stepped up efforts to get state legislatures to impose additional restrictions on medical abortions. So far this year, 16 state legislatures have proposed bans or restrictions on medical abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute. He said the mailing of abortion pills is banned in three states – Arizona, Arkansas and Texas – and that 32 states require these drugs to be prescribed by doctors, although other drugs may be prescribed by physician assistants and other health care providers.