Abortion Health

House Members Introduce Resolution to Compel FDA to Eliminate In-Person Requirement for Medication Abortion

Members of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform introduced a resolution Thursday that urges the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate the requirement that people seeking a medication abortion must obtain the medication in-person.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA required that mifepristone, the first of two pills used in medication abortion, be picked up in person at a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic. In July of 2020, the FDA temporarily lifted the in-person pickup requirement to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The requirement was temporarily suspended again in April.

Without the requirement that mifepristone be dispensed in person, people seeking medication abortion are able to order and receive the pills in the mail.

The resolution is sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairperson Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA), Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO). It asks the FDA to permanently eliminate the in-person requirement so as to improve access to medication abortion.

“Mifepristone is extremely safe—the FDA’s own data confirms this. It’s time that we trust the science and ensure access to safe, legal abortion, particularly for communities where abortion care has been historically pushed out of reach,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) in a statement.

Mifepristone is well established as a safe and common means to terminate an early pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advocates for the in-person dispensing restriction to be eliminated, saying that the requirement is “not based on medical evidence or need.” According to the ACOG, the likelihood of complications arising from a medication abortion is less than 1 percent.

“There is no reason for the FDA to impose unnecessary restrictions on the medication abortion drug mifepristone—a safe and effective form of medication abortion care,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).

“For people already experiencing health disparities—including people of color, people with lower incomes, and people in rural communities—the FDA’s restrictions often push access to medication abortion out of reach. We cannot allow discriminatory stigma to keep people from accessing the health care they deserve,” she said.

“The science is clear: The current restrictions on mifepristone are medically unnecessary. For two decades, these restrictions have only created additional barriers for patients seeking abortion care,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement.

“It is critical that the FDA follow the science and lean into facts to ensure that all people can access a safe and legal abortion without obstacles. I thank Reps. Maloney, Pressley, DeGette, and Lee for their leadership in highlighting the importance of equitable, science-based policies that protect the health and rights of patients.”

Sources: NBC News 8/19/21; The Hill 8/19/21; Congress.gov 8/17/21; Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney 8/19/21; ACOG 8/2020; Planned Parenthood 8/19/21

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