Judge waives in-person visit requirement for abortion pill during pandemic
A federal judge on Monday waived the requirement for an in-person visit to a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office to obtain an abortion pill during the coronavirus pandemic.
Obama-appointed US District Judge Theodore Chuang has ruled that the “in-person requirements” for those seeking abortion and the drug mifepristone are a “substantial hurdle” and unconstitutional amid the ongoing health crisis.
“By forcing some patients to decide between foregoing or significantly delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children and family members, the in-person demands place a heavy burden. for many abortion patients, “Chuang wrote in the decision obtained by The Associated Press.
Under the ruling, healthcare providers will be allowed to send or deliver mifepristone to patients as long as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) public health emergency continues. HHS Secretary Alex Azar first declared the emergency in January.
Eva Chalas, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called Monday’s decision a “victory” in a report.
“Today’s decision represents a victory for patients, who should not have to face the additional burden of increased exposure to COVID-19 as a condition of receiving their prescribed mifepristone,” a- she declared.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony List, released a statement saying the group was “extremely disappointed” and calling the demands “necessary to protect women from serious and life-threatening complications.”
“Abortion activists who are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve their long-standing goal of expanding unsafe chemical drugs for abortion have proven time and time again that they will prioritize profits over health and safety, ”she said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of mifepristone with misoprostol to terminate pregnancy or manage miscarriage.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, along with other groups, sued the HHS and FDA for the rule in person earlier this year, claiming it violated the constitutional right to abortion and the due process clause. of the Fifth Amendment. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) represented the complainants.
Government attorneys have said in-person visits are necessary to maintain patient safety while using the drug, as the FDA requires patients to sign a form about the potential risks.
The HHS and FDA did not immediately return requests for comment.
Chuang had accepted the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction, saying the federal government had waived in-person warrants for other drugs during the pandemic “for the specific purpose of protecting public health.”
Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma have tried to intervene in the lawsuit, arguing the ruling could have an impact impact on the application of the laws of their state. But Chuang said the case would not bar a state from regulating abortion drugs “beyond” FDA rules.