The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit, aiming to get rid of the federal regulation that obliges patients to attend a medical facility in person if they want to receive an abortion pill. They are taking action against the FDA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The physicians want to know the reasons why, according to these agencies, the abortion-seeking patients can’t just fill a prescription by mail and get mifepristone, a drug most commonly used to terminate the pregnancy in early stages. It has been greenlighted by the U.S. authorities for almost two decades now and is also used to ease miscarriages. In the U.S., this drug is commonly known by its brand name Mifeprex.
“Once patients arrive at the health care center, there will often be additional exposure risks. Patients may be unable to maintain complete social distancing with other patients or health care staff, even before they reach the location where they will receive their pill, particularly at entrances and in common areas of the facility. In many cases, patients will have to touch doors, elevators, and/or other surfaces within the hospital, clinic, or medical office,” reads the 42-page filing.
Right now, patients need to visit a clinic or another medical facility in person in order to be administered mifepristone. This certainly doesn’t align with the stay-at-home orders of the coronavirus outbreak. The plaintiffs want to be clear that they demand temporary measures until the outbreak is over.
The current crisis can also force some patients to take it to the point when abortion through medication is impossible, and the in-office procedure becomes the only way. “This, too, unnecessarily increases medical risks: the more time spent inside a health care facility and the more individuals with whom a patient interacts, the greater the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure,” remind the defendants. Since 75% of abortion people are usually low-income, the travel expenses such as gas money or transportation fees can make the in-person prescription visits impossible.
An ACLU attorney Julia Kaye called the current situation “an unnecessary barrier to abortion care” imposed by the Trump administration, reports Associated Press.