In January, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a Trump Administration request to reinstate a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rule requiring patients seeking a medication abortion to make a medically unnecessary in-person visit to their health care provider to pick up the abortion pill mifepristone.
The Court’s decision in FDA v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reverses a federal district court ruling from last July that suspended the FDA rule during the pandemic. In that lower court decision, Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that the FDA’s required in-person visit imposed a “substantial obstacle” to abortion health care that is likely unconstitutional. Judge Chuang’s order allowed clinicians to mail mifepristone to patients after a telemedicine consultation. As a result of the judge’s order, clinicians across the country began offering abortion medication by telemedicine, and U.S.-based online pharmacies began to ship mifepristone to patients. In fact, a recent nationwide study in the United Kingdom has shown that no-test telemedicine abortion is just as safe and effective as in-person abortion health care.