A coalition of House Democrats is urging the Biden administration to overturn a two-decades-old rule that requires pills for medical abortions be obtained in-person.
At issue is a Food and Drug Administration rule that requires mifepristone – one of the two drugs involved in the abortion pill procedure – to be dispensed in-person “by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber.”
The rule was implemented by the Clinton administration in 2000 and has been supported by the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations.
In a Feb. 9 letter to FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock, 11 female members of the House Oversight Committee urged the Biden administration to allow the pill to be mailed to women.
By overturning the current in-person requirement, women would be able to obtain mifepristone through the mail. Some have dubbed the Democrats’ proposal “abortion by mail.”
“We are writing to request that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lift the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone, a prescription medication that has been used to safely end early pregnancies for more than two decades in our country,” the letter says. “Imposing this requirement in the midst of a deadly pandemic – one that has disproportionately impacted communities of color across the United States – needlessly places patients and providers in harm’s way, and further entrenches longstanding health inequities.”
Among those who signed the letter were Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Debbie Wasserman Shultz (Fla.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.) and Katie Porter (Iowa).
A federal judge overturned the FDA requirement last year, but the U.S. Supreme Court this year revived it, ruling that the Trump administration could enforce the restriction.
“In light of the clear danger that the reinstated requirement poses to people seeking comprehensive reproductive health care at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, we urge you to immediately eliminate the medically unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement for mifepristone,” the House Oversight Committee letter says.
The abortion pill includes two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, causing the lining of the uterus to break down in order to kill the unborn baby. Misoprostol sparks contractions and a delivery of the dead child. They can be taken only early in the pregnancy, up to 48 hours apart.
National Right to Life has said the FDA’s own “record of nearly two dozen deaths and thousands of complications” – including severe hemorrhage and the rupture of undiscovered ectopic pregnancies – “has proved” that the FDA restrictions are necessary to protect women.
“Chemical abortions put at risk healthy women who are pregnant with healthy babies,” Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life said in January. “Women are not guinea pigs and putting them at risk so abortion activists can score political points is abhorrent.”
Photo courtesy: Thought Catalog/Unsplash
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.