The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee heard testimony last night on a pending measure that would ban “mid-level” medical practitioners from prescribing methyltrexate, a drug used in chemical abortions in Rhode Island. The bill would overturn an earlier ruling from the Department of Health that deemed midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants capable of prescribing the drug. Supporters of the physician-only policy toward medical abortions claim the bill is “a necessary step to protect women,” but its opponents recognize it as “an attemptto limit access to abortions in Rhode Island.”
The bill was introduced just as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced possible restrictions on the yet-approved Mifepristone, or RU-486, a pill that induces non-surgical abortions. The restrictions would ban mid-level practitioners from prescribing the pill, and would require a national directory of doctors who provide the drug, among other prohibitive mandates. The FDA’s announcement and the Rhode Island bill reveal the current threat against women’s reproductive rights. Chemical or medical abortions would provide wider access to reproductive health care, and are especially needed since 86 percent of counties in America do not have an abortion provider, and clinics and doctors who provide abortion continue to be targeted by anti-abortion terrorists.
For more information on Mifepristone and the FDA’s proposed restrictions, please see the Feminist News, 7 June 2000.