Report: Demand surging for abortion pill after new FDA rules

Report: Demand surging for abortion pill after new FDA rules
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The number of women seeking to end their pregnancies through medication rather than surgery is rising sharply after the Obama administration relaxed the rules for the procedure this year, according to a report by Reuters.  

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the medication, which is known as the abortion pill, for wider use earlier this year.

Since then, states such as Ohio, Texas and North Dakota — which previously had stricter rules for medication abortions — have seen demand triple. In some clinics in those states, that means about one-third of women are seeking medical abortions, according to data reviewed by Reuters.

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Medical abortions, which involve a pair of drugs, can be prescribed through the 10th week of a woman’s pregnancy, and, in most states, can be done at home.

Nationwide, medical abortions are now approaching the number of surgical abortions for the first time — a major shift for American abortion providers.

In some states, medical abortions are already surpassing surgery: Fifty-five percent of women chose medical abortions in Michigan, and 64 percent of women chose the medication in Iowa, according to recent data from state officials and clinics.

The national rate of medical abortions has been steadily on the rise. The new rules made twice as many abortion patients eligible for the drug.   

Even before the FDA’s ruling, 43 percent of women ended their pregnancies with medication at Planned Parenthood in 2014, compared to 35 percent in 2010, according to new data from the group.

The use of medication has risen sharply since it first won U.S. approval in 2000.

In 2001, medical abortions made up just 6 percent of all abortions. Ten years later, the figure had risen to 23 percent, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The growing use of medical abortion comes as the total number of abortions in the U.S. hits an all-time low after steadily decreasing since the 1990s.

More women are also choosing to obtain abortions much earlier in their pregnancies: One-third of women did so within the first six weeks in 2011, compared to one-quarter of women in 2001, according to data by the nonprofit group Guttmacher.  

Dozens of states have created some restrictions on medical abortions in the last several years, such as requirements that women receive the pill in person, rather than with telemedicine.