Friday, October 6, 2017

ACLU Sues to Increase Access to Abortion Pill

NPR (October 3, 2017): ACLU Sues To Increase Access to Abortion Pill, Sarah McCammon:

The ACLU has just filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii arguing that medication abortion be offered by prescription and stocked in local pharmacies.  Currently, the FDA requires that mifepristone, one of the drugs used in medication abortion, can only be dispensed at a medical facility under the care of a certified provider.  Certified providers must pre-register with the drugs' manufacturer, keep the medication in stock and be capable of providing a surgical abortion if complications arise. Although the regulations require that the pill be dispensed at a qualified medical facility, the woman actually takes the mifepristone at home.

The FDA regulations have big implications in locations where there is not a nearby abortion clinic or hospital that provides medication abortion.  The plaintiff in the case, Dr. Graham Chilies lives in Kauai, which does not have a single abortion clinic.  So if one of his patients needs an abortion she must fly to a different island 150 miles away. 

Chelius argues those rules are unnecessary and cumbersome. Hawaii has one of the nation's highest poverty rates, and the delays and expenses are sometimes insurmountable barriers, Chelius said. The casecould have implications beyond Hawaii.

"The FDA restrictions create delays that often push medication abortion out of reach of my patients," he said. "And some of my patients are simply unable to make this trip and instead have been forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will."

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