New York City begins offering free abortion pills at sexual health clinics


Washington
CNN

New York City on Wednesday began offering free abortion pills at a city sexual health clinic in the Bronx.

The city already offers medical abortions at its 11 public hospitals, but the new program will eventually expand access to four public health clinics and offer patients a way to have the procedure free of charge.

Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, announced the program Tuesday at a City Hall news briefing in which he hailed an undertaking that “no other city in the country or in the world” has made about their public health department offering medical abortions.

“We’re first,” Adams said.

Clinics in Queens, Harlem and Brooklyn will offer the pills by the end of the year, the city said.

The pills at the clinics are provided to patients free of charge and are funded as part of a $1.2 million sexual health services package, according to the city’s Health Department.

Ashwin Vasan, the city’s commissioner for health and mental hygiene, said once the four public health clinics are operational, they will be able to perform up to 10,000 medical abortions annually in addition to the medical abortions already offered in the public hospitals.

Vasan also said that the medical abortions are “open to anyone” who needs them from within or outside of New York City. The city currently offers abortion services to everyone, regardless of immigration status.

Since the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade last summer, New York City has launched several programs in recent months to make abortions easier for women.

In August, Adams signed a package of six city council bills known as the NYC Abortion Rights Act, paving the way to make medical abortions free in Department of Health clinics.

And in November, the city opened the country’s first Abortion Access Hub, which confidentially connects women who want an abortion with abortion providers across the city. The hub is open to women from all states and will also assist them in arranging financial support services, transportation and accommodation for the procedures if needed.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allowed certified pharmacies to dispense the abortion drug mifepristone to people who have a prescription.

Mifepristone can be used with another drug, misoprostol, to terminate a pregnancy. Previously, these pills could only be ordered, prescribed, and dispensed by a certified healthcare provider. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA allowed the pills to be shipped through the mail and said it would no longer enforce a rule requiring people to receive the first of the two drugs in person at a clinic or hospital.

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