Federal judge rules women can get abortion pill without medical visit

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(Photo via NARAL)

SILVER SPRING, Md. — On Monday, a federal judge suspended a rule that required women to visit a medical professional to get an abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients and are likely unconstitutional under the circumstances of the pandemic.

“Particularly in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm,” the judge wrote in his 80-page decision.

According to the AP, the ruling will allow healthcare providers to arrange for mifepristone to be mailed or delivered to patients during the pandemic. 

Neighboring states of Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri were among 10 states that wanted to intervene in the case, claiming it would affect their ability regulate the drug, also know as RU-486. All three states restrict access to it.

Chuang denied the request, saying the case would not restrict states’ ability to regulate “above and beyond” the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) requirements.

The Associated Press reported that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA in May to challenge the rule.

Skye Perryman, chief legal officer for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the AP that the FDA’s restrictions on mifepristone are not medically necessary and “do not advance the health and safety of patients.”

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