Abortion Rights Groups Urge FDA To Let Abortion Medications Be Shipped

Pro-abortion groups are calling on the FDA to expand telemedicine abortion services during the pandemic.
Posted at 6:22 PM, Apr 17, 2020

"If the FDA were looking strictly at science and medicine, they would do this in an instant."

The National Women's Health Network, along with dozens of other organizations, sent a letter to the FDA earlier this month asking it to immediately lift what it calls "medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion." 

Since the FDA approved the so-called "abortion pill", there's only been one legal way to get it: Go to a registered hospital or clinic and pick it up. But in light of the coronavirus pandemic, these groups are asking the FDA to make an exception. 

The groups want the FDA to allow the pills to be shipped to pregnant people's doorsteps or to make the pills available at local pharmacies. 

The executive director of the National Women's Health Network argues making pregnant people leave the house to get pills that they will ultimately take at home puts them and providers at unnecessary risk. 

"It's just a needless burden and increases the risk of the epidemic on a group of patients who don't need to be traveling and coming in in-person," Pearson said.

Less than two weeks earlier, over 50 anti-abortion rights groups sent their own letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging health officials to stop abortion services during the pandemic. They argue doing so would free up personal protective equipment needed by health care workers fighting the coronavirus. They also said telemedicine abortion should not be expanded during the outbreak and that emergency response funds should not be given to abortion providers. 

Mallory Quiqley, the VP of communications for one of the groups that wrote that letter, said: "This is really not the time to be expanding access to chemical abortion, leaving women to deal with the consequences on their own. The consequences being to very painfully pass the body of their dead child at home and having to deal with the physical and emotional repercussions of that." 

Several states, including Texas, have restricted "nonessential" procedures to save medical equipment and reduce the coronavirus' transmission. Whether abortion falls under the "nonessential" category has led to multiple court battles.

"We believe that the intentional taking of an unborn human life is never essential, it's never necessary and that women will be better served by the communities in choosing life," Quigley said.

But reproductive health groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say abortion should be considered essential and that delaying it can harm patients.

Newsy reached out to the FDA for comment but had not heard back as of Friday afternoon.