Pro-choice advocates are pressuring the Trump administration to eliminate restrictions on the abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the drug is the best option for pregnant women when an in-person contact may not be possible.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restrictions require that mifepristone – one of the two drugs involved in the abortion pill procedure – be dispensed in-person “by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber.” It cannot be mailed.
Further, 18 states require the clinician to be present when the abortion drug is dispensed.
But Daniel Grossman, an OB/GYN and abortion doctor, says restrictions should be loosened and the abortion pill should be dispensed via telemedicine during the pandemic – with pregnant women talking to their doctor remotely and with the abortion pill then mailed. Grossman is director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), a group at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF).
“Abortion is obviously a time-sensitive medical procedure. It’s not an elective procedure that can just be rescheduled a month or two later,” Grossman told VICE.
Grossman made the same argument in a series of tweets.
“There are many abortion patients and providers who are scared right now. Just because a pandemic is upon us, people don't stop needing reproductive healthcare and abortions – same for during hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. It gets harder,” he tweeted.
There are many abortion patients and providers who are scared right now. Just because a pandemic is upon us, people don't stop needing reproductive healthcare and abortions—same for during hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. It gets harder.https://t.co/yvQjzBVwXR— Dr. Daniel Grossman (@DrDGrossman) March 12, 2020
“... This would be a great time to expand access to telemedicine to keep patients and providers safe.”
This would be a great time to expand access to telemedicine to keep patients and providers safe. But states like Ohio are using this moment to ban it: https://t.co/r2BnDg3jzc— Dr. Daniel Grossman (@DrDGrossman) March 12, 2020
And Oklahoma is trying to ban it at 6 weeks: https://t.co/q1Mz3MXxH6
Dustin Costescu, family planning specialist in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at McMaster University, made a similar argument.
“#COVID2019 is a good time to remind you that Self-Managed abortion is safe, avoids in person appointments, and will be necessary to address the increased incidence of unintended pregnancies that will result from self-quarantine,” Costescu wrote.
#COVID2019 is a good time to remind you that Self-Managed abortion is safe, avoids in person appointments, and will be necessary to address the increased incidence of unintended pregnancies that will result from self-quarantine.— Dr. Dustin Costescu (@BirthControlDoc) March 10, 2020
The abortion pill includes two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone blocks the hormone progesterone, causing the lining of the uterus to break down and kill the unborn baby. Misoprostol sparks contractions and a delivery of the dead child. They can be taken only early in the pregnancy. The two pills are taken up to 48 hours apart.
Alison H. Centofante, director of external affairs at the pro-life group Live Action, criticized Grossman’s proposal.
“Abortionist Dr. Daniel Grossman thinks now is a good time to encourage the deaths of more innocent people,” she tweeted. “… At a time when many patients need *actual* healthcare and treatment for Coronavirus, these abortion-obsessed ‘doctors’ are using their platforms to push their deadly abortion agenda.”
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.