ACLU Response to Second Trump Administration Petition to Supreme Court on Medication Abortion Access During the Pandemic

The Administration Asks the Supreme Court for a Second Time to Force Abortion Patients to Risk Needless COVID-19 Exposure, Despite Three Losses in Lower Courts

December 15, 2020 2:00 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration submitted its second petition to the Supreme Court today seeking to reinstate a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule that requires patients seeking a medication used for early abortion care to incur unnecessary COVID-19 risks by traveling to a health center for the sole purpose of picking up a pill and sign a form.

This petition follows a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland last week upholding its injunction of an FDA requirement that patients travel in person to pick up mifepristone 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. That ruling was the third decision from a federal court blocking this policy during the public health emergency. Just one day after the United States crossed a new record of 300,000 deaths from the virus, the Trump administration’s Supreme Court petition argues that forcing patients to incur needless COVID-19 risks as a condition of obtaining early abortion care does not violate their constitutional rights.

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

“The Trump administration seems committed to jeopardizing the lives of as many people as possible on its way out the door. With COVID-19 wreaking devastation across the nation — and particularly in communities of color — the last thing the federal government should be doing is exposing abortion patients, their health care providers, and their families and communities to entirely needless viral risk. The Supreme Court should refuse to acquiesce to the administration’s shameless campaign to punish and endanger people who need abortion care during the pandemic.”

The plaintiffs in the case are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, 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 litigation is supported by the American Medical Association.

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