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WASHINGTON — Federal regulators’ green light for pharmacists to dispense abortion pills is crashing into legal questions and simmering court battles.

The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month removed a longtime restriction that only doctors could dispense mifepristone, which is approved for abortions up to 10 weeks. The move opens the door for pharmacists to supply the drugs and shores up protections for mail orders, which have become an important channel for abortion access in the wake of Roe’s overturn last summer.


But it also puts abortion pills in a legal gray area in 12 of the country’s most abortion-restrictive states, where the procedure is banned starting as early as conception to six weeks. In two other states, Montana and Wisconsin, there are no clinics currently providing abortion, according to pro-abortion rights group the Guttmacher Institute. Eighteen states require a doctor to be present when someone takes the pill, effectively banning mail-order mifepristone, though the Biden administration pushed against those limits with a recent Justice Department opinion.

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