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NYC becomes first city in the nation to offer free abortion pills

woman in fear and pain with pills

fizkes | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 01/24/23

The city's plans to open three more such clinics could allow them to distribute enough pills for 10,000 abortions per year.

New York City became the first in the nation to offer abortion pills on the state’s dime last week at a Bronx clinic. While the five boroughs contain 11 hospitals that offer surgical abortion, the city is moving ahead with Mayor Eric Adams’ announced expansion of the abortion pill arrangement, which will lead to another three clinics offering these pills in Harlem, Queens, and Brooklyn. 

The move came after the FDA announced a loosening of restrictions on at-home abortion-inducing drugs in early January. OSV News notes that the FDA admitted that the abortion pills – two medications known as misoprostol and mifepristone, as well as their approved generics – bore the risks of serious safety concerns when they were put through a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program.

Still, the results of this examination led the FDA to conclude “the benefits of the medication outweigh its risks.” These are the same medications that induce labor in an expectant mother who experiences an early miscarriage. 

It is estimated that these medications, which can cause abortion in the first trimester when 90% of abortions in the US occur, accounted for 53% of all US facility-based abortions in 2020. Now, however, no in-person doctor’s visit is required to begin the process. This is due to an extension of a 2021 FDA rule change that allowed virtual meetings with doctors and mail-order pharmacy fulfillment, which was meant to keep healthy people away from possible exposure to COVID-19. 

Paid for by taxes

According to CNN, the pills are funded by a $1.2 million package for sexual health services, compliments of the city’s Department of Health. This means that the bill for these free abortion inducing pills falls on the taxpayers. It is estimated that the four planned clinics alone will be able to supply enough pills to induce 10,000 abortions annually. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was quick to decry the FDA’s loosened restrictions. After reiterating the Church’s stance on abortion, they lamented that the safety standards for vulnerable women have fallen. The conference suggested that placing women in harm’s way only exacerbates the “tragedy of taking the lives of the preborn.” The USCCB wrote: 

“The rate of serious complications after chemical abortion is considerably higher than after surgical abortion. Overturning the safety protocols around abortion-causing drugs to effectively make them available on demand at pharmacies, requiring no in-person medical supervision, facilitates the isolation of critically vulnerable pregnant women, and invites more risk, pain, and trauma. It may also result in new violations of conscience for pharmacy workers who cannot dispense such drugs.

The FDA should protect the life and health of both mothers and children, not loosen safety standards under industry or political pressures. We call on the Administration to correct its policy priorities and stand with mothers in need. They deserve better.”

AbortionMedicineNew YorkUnited States
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