FDA lifts curbs on dispensing abortion pills during pandemic

ACOG challenged the claim last year, but a lower supreme court declined to intervene after Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death in October. This has allowed abortion clinics to continue dispensing the pills remotely, which has made patients and staff safer during the pandemic.

The January justices approved the Trump administration’s motion to reinstate the rules in a 6-3 ruling that broke ideologically and marked the first major Supreme Court action against abortion since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was ratified.

The Biden government earlier this month asked an appeals court for more time to respond to ACOG’s lawsuit, indicating that the FDA may decide to “exercise its discretion in enforcement.”

ACOG chief executive officer Maureen G. Phipps said Monday that the lifting of restrictions means that “those in need of abortion or miscarriage management can do so safely and effectively by purchasing mifepristone through the mail – just like at any other drug. ” a similarly strong security profile. “

The move only covers the public health emergency and does not describe how the Biden government will deal with the restrictions after the pandemic is over. Constantly raising the curbs would greatly expand access to the drugs.

The demand for abortion pills has increased as Conservative states have moved aggressively in recent years to restrict access to surgical abortions. In 2001, the drugs were used in only 5 percent of abortions in the United States. By 2017 it was 39 percent, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.

Scientists and doctors are increasingly promoting the discontinuation of drugs that can only be used in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy and have long called for stricter rules on how patients can receive the pills. The pandemic brought great relief to the problem as the government tried to limit personal donation and encourage telemedicine.

Mifepristone “has very few risks at all,” said Jen Villavicencio, ACOG health policy fellow. “It’s safer than over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol. We know this drug can be safely administered via telemedicine because we studied it. “

ACOG, along with the American Medical Association and other leading medical groups, has lobbied the Biden administration and argued in court that federal regulations on the dispensing of the pills should be permanently relaxed. Their push has been confirmed by the Democrats in Congress, who have urged Biden to allow telemedicine abortions both during the pandemic and beyond.

But anti-abortion lawmakers and stakeholders anticipating Monday’s policy change have worked to preventively ban the pills or make them harder to get.

A new Ohio telemedicine abortion ban, due to go into effect Monday, has been blocked by a state court while others are moving forward in Indiana, Arkansas, Iowa, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming and West Virginia.

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