Abortion Pills Feared to Be on Some States' Chopping Block Following Overturning of Roe v. Wade
While Biden has committed to making Mifepristone continually available, some fear that the accessibility of the medication — taken alongside misoprostil for at-home abortions — could be in danger.
The Justice Department and the Biden administration have recently discussed medication abortion, signaling to some that the method may face legal scrutiny following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
After the SCOTUS determination, the Justice Department issued a warning to states not to ban mifepristone, a federally approved drug that induces abortions. When paired with another medication called misoprostol, taking mifepristone can be used to safely end a pregnancy up to 10 weeks.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SCOTUS lifted the restriction that mandated mifepristone be dispensed in person.
This change allowed it to be prescribed by a provider through a telemedicine appointment and then sent to the patient by mail.
Now that the court has ended federal protections for abortions, individual states are subsequently allowed to determine their individual reproductive healthcare laws.
Because of this, several new limits and bans are expected to follow, with medication abortion being one of the upcoming targets.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, 19 states require the clinician providing a medication abortion to be physically present when the drug is administered, which limits the use of telemedicine.
Two states currently ban the use of medication abortion beginning at a specific point in pregnancy, and 32 states only allow physicians to provide mifepristone, even though the FDA allows other certified health care providers to prescribe the medication, according to the Institute.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been told by the Biden administration to ensure medications like mifepristone "are available to the fullest extent possible, and that politicians cannot interfere in the decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor,” according to a statement from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.
Becerra’s response said that the department will work to increase access to medication abortion.
According to the secretary, this could include teaming up with the Justice Department to ensure "that states may not ban medication abortion, based on a disagreement with the FDA's expert judgment about the drug's safety and efficacy."
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