Retail pharmacies may now dispense abortion pills but not in Arizona

By Stephanie Innes || Arizona Republic

Arizonans will not be affected by a federal rule change that’s increasing access to abortion pills by allowing brick-and-mortar retail pharmacies to dispense them.

A U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule change, announced via its website and first reported by the New York Times on Jan. 3, was welcomed by abortion rights advocates as a step forward in creating more access to abortion care. The rule change was immediately criticized by anti-abortion groups, who are organizing protests outside of CVS and Walgreens stores in eight cities next month, Politico reported Jan. 11. But it won’t matter in Arizona.

“Unfortunately for us, it’s not going to help us anytime soon,” said Eloisa Lopez, executive director of the Abortion Fund of Arizona and Pro-Choice Arizona.

The rule change will allow some Americans to obtain medication abortions from a retail pharmacy in person or by mail without needing to go into an abortion clinic, as long as they have a prescription from a health care provider.

Arizonans won’t be able to take advantage of the rule change because of the state’s restrictive abortion access laws.

Those laws include mandatory in-person counseling, followed by a 24-hour waiting period and then another office visit to obtain either a surgical or a medication abortion, providers here say. Arizona also prohibits the use of telemedicine for medication abortions.

“I do think it’s important to acknowledge that this is a big deal and that this a step in the right direction, with the FDA lifting some of the really burdensome requirements,” said Brittany Fonteno, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Arizona, of the federal rule change.

The FDA rule change won’t be of any benefit “in a hostile state to abortion rights like Arizona,” Fonteno said.


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January 2023