Biden directs HHS to protect abortion pill access

President Joe Biden on Jan. 22 issued a memorandum directing HHS to "consider new guidance" to protect legal access to abortion pills in the U.S.

The memorandum directs HHS to consult with the attorney general and the secretary of homeland security "to consider new guidance to support patients, providers and pharmacies who wish to legally access, prescribe or provide mifepristone — no matter where they live." It also directs the agency to work with the Justice and Homeland Security departments on new actions that will ensure patients have access to reproductive care, including medication abortion from a pharmacy, "free from threats or violence." 

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the new efforts, which would have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in Florida on Jan. 22. The landmark court decision was overturned in June. 

"Members of our Cabinet and our administration are now directed, as part of the president's order, to identify barriers to access to prescription medication and to recommend actions to make sure that doctors can legally prescribe, that pharmacies and dispense, and that women can secure safe and effective medication," Ms. Harris said. 

Earlier this month, the FDA said retail pharmacies can dispense abortion pills in states where it is legal. CVS and Walgreens have said they plan to distribute mifepristone. Some states have moved to further restrict or protect access in response.

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