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


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

The city already offers medical abortions at 11 state hospitals, but the new program will eventually expand access to four public health clinics and provide a means of the procedure at no cost to patients.

Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, announced the program at a town hall news conference Tuesday, praising the effort that “no other city in the country or in the world” has made with a public health department that provides medical abortions.

“We’re the first,” Adams said.

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

The pills will be made available at clinics to patients at no cost and funded as part of a $1.2 million package for sexual health services, according to the city’s health department.

Once operational, the city’s four public health clinics will be able to offer up to 10,000 medical abortions annually in addition to the medical abortions already offered by public hospitals, said Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Vasan also said medical abortions will be “open to anyone” who needs them from inside or outside New York City. The city currently offers abortion services to anyone, regardless of immigration status.

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

In August, Adams signed a package of six city council bills known as the New York City Abortion Rights Bill, which paved the way for making medical abortions free in Health Department clinics.

And in November, the city launched the nation’s first abortion access center, clandestinely connecting women requesting abortions with abortion providers across the city. The center is open to women from any state and also helps connect them with financial support services, transportation, and lodging for the procedures, if needed.

Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration allowed approved pharmacies to dispense the abortion medication mifepristone to people with a prescription.

Mifepristone can be used with another medicine, 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 Food and Drug Administration allowed pills to be sent through the mail and said it would no longer enforce a rule requiring people to get their first two drugs in person at a clinic or hospital.

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