New York City on Wednesday began providing free abortion pills at a city-run sexual health clinic in the Bronx.
The city already offers medication abortions at its 11 public hospitals, but the new program will eventually expand access to four public health clinics and provide an avenue to the procedure at no cost to patients.
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, announced the program at a City Hall news conference on Tuesday, in which he hailed an endeavor that “no other city in the nation or in the world” has undertaken via its public health department providing medication abortions.
“We are the 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 will be provided to patients at no cost and are being funded as part of a $1.2 million package for sexual health services, according to the city’s Department of Health.
Ashwin Vasan, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene commissioner, said that once the four public health clinics are up and running, they will be able to provide up to 10,000 medication abortions annually in addition to the medication abortions its public hospitals already offer.
Vasan also said the medication abortions would be “open to anyone” who needs them from in or out of New York City. The city currently provides 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 bills from the City Council known as the NYC Abortion Rights Act, which paved the way to make medication abortions free at Department of Health clinics.
And in November, the city launched the first Abortion Access Hub in the country that confidentially connects women seeking abortions to abortion providers across the city. The hub 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 certified pharmacies to dispense the abortion medication mifepristone to people who have a prescription.
Mifepristone can be used along with another medication, misoprostol, to end a pregnancy. Previously, these pills could be ordered, prescribed and dispensed only by a certified health-care provider. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA allowed the pills to be sent through the mail and said it would no longer enforce a rule requiring people to get the first of the two drugs in person at a clinic or hospital.