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Florida patients will not benefit from FDA change allowing retail pharmacies to offer abortion pills

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A majority of abortions in the United States are medically induced through a two-pill regimen that requires a prescription but does not involve surgery. For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration will now allow retail pharmacies to fill those prescriptions.

Florida law requires patients to have an in-person visit with a physician at least 24 hours before an abortion procedure, including for medication abortion. The patient then needs to make another appointment to take the first dose in person.

A majority of abortions in the United States are medically induced through a two-pill regimen that requires a prescription but does not involve surgery. For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration will now allow retail pharmacies to fill those prescriptions.

Walgreens and CVS, the two largest pharmacy chains in the country, have said they will seek certification from the FDA to begin filling prescriptions for abortion pills.

But Laura Goodhue, with Planned Parenthood of Florida, says the change will not impact everyone.

"It's a great step forward for millions of people except, unfortunately, people that live in states where there are significant abortion restrictions and right now that's pretty much the South and Midwest, including Florida," she said.

Under state law, patients in Florida are not able to pick up the pills at a certified pharmacy or have the medication mailed to them. Instead, they have to schedule two appointments with a doctor at a licensed abortion-providing facility. The first pill has to be taken in front of the doctor. The second one, can be taken at home.

"You couldn't even pick up the prescription,” said Goodhue. “So literally, it's a doctor, who is handing over a pill to a patient, and of course that's after the required mandated by the state 24-hour waiting period. That's how medication abortion works in Florida.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks state laws and policies surrounding abortion, 29 states specifically require physicians to administer medication abortions.

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