ACLU Comment on Trump Administration Petition to Supreme Court for Permission to Force Unnecessary Travel for Abortion Care During Pandemic

Two Federal Courts Have Already Ruled Against FDA Regulation Making COVID-19 Risks a Condition of Early Abortion Care

August 26, 2020 12:30 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration petitioned the Supreme Court today to reinstate a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule that requires patients seeking a medication used for early abortion care to make unnecessary trips to their health care provider and therefore face needless COVID-19 risks.

The FDA’s policy requires that patients pick up a medication used for early abortion care in person at a hospital, clinic, or medical office — even when they have already been evaluated by a clinician using telehealth or at a prior in-person visit and will be receiving no medical services at the time. The rule has been blocked by a preliminary injunction since July in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a coalition of medical experts and reproductive justice advocates, led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Earlier in August, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump administration’s motion to stay the lower court ruling.

The following is a statement from Julia Kaye, staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project:

“With COVID-19 raging across the nation — and despite being rebuffed twice in the courts — the Trump administration refuses to end its crusade to subject abortion patients and their families to entirely unnecessary exposure risks. Forcing patients to travel during a pandemic just to pick up a pill is irrational and dangerous, which is why the medical community uniformly opposes this senseless rule. We hope the Supreme Court will deny the Trump administration’s cruel attempt to score political points by putting people seeking essential reproductive health care at needless risk.”

The plaintiffs in this case are: ACOG, the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York State Academy of Family Physicians, SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, and an individual family medicine physician. The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU and the law firm Arnold & Porter.

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