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The following statement can be attributed to Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.
Washington D.C.- Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the U. S. Food and Drug Administration’s medically unjustified requirement that people travel to a certified facility simply to pick up abortion pills that they are then allowed to safely take at home. A federal judge had earlier ruled that enforcing this requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic placed an undue burden on people who need abortion care. This decision will impose the worst consequences on people of color and low-income people, who are already more likely to develop COVID-19.
The Court’s decision is one of the last acts in the Trump administration’s attack on reproductive health. The administration aggressively sought to overturn the district court’s decision to follow the science. And they got the result they wanted from a Supreme Court willing to rule six to three against access to abortion care.
The Biden-Harris administration must take action on day one to suspend in-person requirements for mifepristone, making the rules for medication abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic consistent with the steps FDA has taken to reduce coronavirus exposure for all other drugs. We also call on the Biden-Harris administration to undertake a systemic review of all components of the FDA’s restrictions and permanently remove any restrictions that are not medically necessary.
The FDA’s restrictions on the abortion pill have been political from the start. Now they’re dangerous.
Traveling to a clinic to pick up mifepristone restricts abortion access for many in normal times. In a public health emergency, it further restricts abortion access while also putting pregnant people and health care workers at risk, putting more pressure on our over-burdened health care system. This threatens more individuals with COVID-19 exposure, all to obtain a medication that has a safer track record than some over the counter medications.
This is why the NWHN launched our #MailTheAbortionPill campaign, to call on the FDA to lift the restrictions that require an in-person pick-up for mifepristone.
Politicizing a pandemic strains our health care system and heightens every person’s individual risk, especially in vulnerable populations that are already disproportionately affected by COVID-19. The FDA needs to protect people, not political ideologies, and the first step is allowing pregnant people to get the abortion pill where they take the pill - at home.
The Trump administration struck another blow against reproductive freedom yesterday. Seven days from now, the Biden-Harris administration can begin to right those wrongs. We look forward to quick action from the new administration.
Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress, NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.