Statement From URGE on the F.D.A. Expanding Access to Abortion Pills to be Offered at Retail Pharmacies

January 4, 2023

Kwentoria Williams

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that retail pharmacies can offer abortion pills with a prescription from a certified healthcare provider, and the Justice Department cleared the Postal Service to carry abortion pills into states with bans. These decisions will expand reproductive care options for some individuals across the country. However, abortion bans take precedence, and fears of criminalization regarding mailing the medication cannot be overlooked. In response, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity released the following statement.

Kimberly Inez McGuire (she/her/ella), Executive Director of URGE, said:

“The F.D.A.’s decision to lift some of the restrictions on abortion pills is a step in the right direction. Mifepristone is a safe and effective medication and many people’s first choice for abortion care. Allowing people to receive mifepristone at retail pharmacies without an in-person requirement will provide more opportunities for folks who need abortions.

“Unfortunately, this decision doesn’t undo the human rights crisis created by the loss of legal abortion for nearly half the country.  This decision won’t expand access in states with abortion bans already in place, and it jeopardizes already-marginalized communities suffering from abortion bans, putting them at higher risk of criminalization if suspected of having mailed or received via mail abortion pills. As we know, Black, trans, immigrant, young, and low-income folks already face state surveillance and criminalization at higher rates, especially in states with harmful abortion bans.

“Though allowing this life-saving, effective, and necessary medication to be received at retail pharmacies is the right step and long overdue, it is imperative that the Justice Department and other state and federal agencies provide clear guidelines for implementation. We also need bold policies that directly confront the harmful and racist abortion bans enacted across the country. 

“Finally, we must end the criminalization of abortion, period. However someone accesses their abortion pills, they shouldn’t fear arrest or jail simply for making their own decisions about parenting and pregnancy care. 

“URGE will continue to fight until every person can make their own reproductive decisions, whatever their age, race, gender, sexual orientation or zip code.”