Medication abortion has been available in the United States since 2000, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of mifepristone for early nonsurgical abortion. Currently, medication abortion is approved for use up to 10 weeks of gestational age, but it is used safely off label at later gestation. Courts have declared that banning medication abortion outright is unconstitutional, but other state-level restrictions have gone into effect without legal challenges.
Many states limit provision of medication abortion solely to physicians. This policy contradicts findings from the World Health Organization, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, and the National Abortion Federation that midlevel providers, such as physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, can safely provide medication abortion.
Some states also require the clinician, usually a physician, to be in the same room as the patient when providing abortion-inducing drugs, effectively banning telemedicine provision of medication abortion despite clinical evidence that this practice is appropriate and safe. Both of these types of laws restrict practices that would expand access to medication abortion, particularly for patients in rural areas and regions with few abortion providers.
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- 32 states require clinicians who administer medication abortion to be physicians.
1 state prohibits the use of medication abortion starting at 10 weeks of pregnancy.
- 19 states require the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present when the medication is administered, thereby prohibiting the use of telemedicine to prescribe medication for abortion.
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