The Supreme Court ruled this week to reinstate a restriction that requires people to access the abortion pill in person during the pandemic. An order from a federal judge previously suspended the requirement, but the Supreme Court decided to lift this order, Reuters reports, which will make it even more difficult for people accessing abortion care.
In July, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland ruled that in-person requirements “constitute a substantial obstacle in the path of women seeking medical abortion” and may even violate their constitutional rights. But this week, at the request of the Trump administration, the Supreme Court re-examined the case and ultimately ruled that the requirement must remain, despite the pandemic raging.
What is commonly referred to as “the abortion pill” are actually two drugs, the first of which is mifepristone (also called Mifeprex or RU-486), a drug that stops pregnancies of 10 weeks or less by blocking the receptors of progesterone. Normally, progesterone helps thicken the lining of the uterus. But without it, the pregnancy cannot progress. A day or two after taking mifepristone, a patient will then take a second medicine (misoprostol), which causes contractions that help the uterus to expel the pregnancy. SELF explained previously.
Mifepristone is regulated as part of a risk assessment and mitigation strategy and elements to ensure safe use by the Food and Drug Administration, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says; these require that people who want a medical abortion take the first pill in a doctor’s office, health clinic or hospital under the supervision of a doctor. In 19 states, the healthcare worker prescribing the medicine must be physically present while you are taking it, The Guttmacher Institute explains. The patient can then take the second pill at home 24 to 48 hours later.
But here’s the problem: While mifepristone has potential side effects (most commonly bleeding, cramping, and nausea), experts say medical abortions are generally quite safe. And many of these experts have been push the FDA to permanently remove the in-person requirement during the last years.
The hope is that easing this restriction would allow more people to receive the drug. by email or access it in a place closer to them (possibly by chatting with a doctor by telemedicine), thereby reducing unnecessary burden and making safe abortions more accessible. And being able to avoid traveling and spending a lot of time with other people is especially crucial now thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“As more and more people tragically contract COVID, people still need abortion care. This move goes against the public health needs of communities across the United States. No patient, no healthcare provider should have unnecessary exposures to COVID, ”the Physicians for Reproductive Health said in a statement. Twitter statement. “Medical abortion is a RH and EFFECTIVE way to access abortion care. We know the barriers to this care are dangerous, especially during a global pandemic. This decision is purely political, NOT medicine. “