The world is watching as healthcare systems strain and buckle under the weight of the coronavirus' spread. It is readily apparent that hospitals and healthcare providers need to be buoyed if they stand any chance of saving lives from COVID-19. Experts unanimously agree that general social distancing is our strongest weapon against the disease's spread, especially since infected individuals may or may not know they have the virus. Telemedicine, which is the practice of physicians remotely distributing care and information to patients via phone or video, has been around for decades but has become ubiquitous seemingly overnight to comply with critical social distancing measures. That's because telemedicine offers a chance for physicians to continue to provide the care folks needed before the outbreak of COVID-19 at a safe physical distance.
Some healthcare can be delayed during the pandemic, and some cannot. Abortion, for example, is time-sensitive and life saving healthcare. Many abortions can be safely performed with telemedicine, but in 18 states, it is still illegal to provide a medical abortion via telehealth.Please sign the petition and demand that these statewide constraints be removed and that the FDA lift its restrictions on abortion pills!
The term "abortion pill" is used to refer to a regimen of two medications, mifepristone and misoprostol, which can be taken orally to safely terminate a pregnancy that has not yet reached ten weeks. This is called a medication abortion because it does not require an in-person procedure. Although it was approved 20 years ago, mifepristone specifically remains heavily regulated by the FDA under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) - a measure that many experts call "medically unwarranted."
This means that, unlike other safe and effective medications like it, mifepristone cannot be distributed by pharmacies.
The FDA imposes a REMS when the safety risks of a medication outweigh its benefits, but mifepristone doesn't fit the bill
. This is a clear example of the highly politicized nature of abortion discourse getting in the way of safe, necessary, and time-sensitive healthcare for pregnant folks. This FDA-imposed REMS on mifepristone must be lifted so that people can get safe abortions during the age of critical social distancing
But even if mifepristone were available in pharmacies, this would provide little relief to those seeking the medication in the 18 states in the U.S. that require the physician providing the abortion through medication be physically present. There is no evidence that a medication abortion provided via telehealth is any less safe or effective than one administered with the physician physically present.
During a pandemic, hospitals and healthcare providers are being forced to triage patients and prioritize care. The time-sensitive nature of abortion means that these services cannot be de-prioritized. To decrease the number of in-person visits to medical facilities, and to ensure that healthcare is provided where it is needed, these 18 states must lift their bans on telehealth abortions!Please sign the petition calling on the FDA to lift its abortion pill restrictions, and demand that all 50 United States allow medication abortions via telehealth!