ACLU Sues Over Government Limits on Access to 'Abortion Pill'

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the federal government over restrictions that limit access to the so-called "abortion pill."

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Hawaii, claims that the pill should be made available by prescription in pharmacies, the Associated Press reported. Mifeprix is sold in the United States for abortions up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Right now, U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules state that the pill can only be dispensed in clinics, hospitals and doctors' offices, according to the wire service.

"The abortion pill is safe, effective and legal. So why is the FDA keeping it locked away from women who need it?" Julia Kaye, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, told the wire service. "The FDA's unique restrictions on medication abortion are not grounded in science -- this is just abortion stigma made law."

The restrictions, in place since the pill became available in 2000, also state that all providers of the drug must go through a special certification process, the AP said.

Women using the abortion pill generally take it in the privacy of their home. Kaye told the wire service that the legal case "is primarily about where a woman must be standing when she's handed the abortion pill that's been prescribed to her."

"The FDA restriction defies common sense," she said. "There's no medical issue in whether she's handed the pill at a pharmacy or at a clinic."

The FDA did issue new guidelines for the use of Mifeprex last year, but the FDA confirmed this week that the agency still feels the restrictions are necessary, the AP reported. The FDA added that it does not comment on pending lawsuits.

A commentary published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine said that 19 deaths have been reported to the FDA among the more than 3 million women who have used Mifeprex. That rate is lower than it is for pregnancy-related deaths among women, the wire service said.

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