House members to urge FDA to remove in-person requirement for abortion medication
House Democrats have introduced a resolution that aims to encourage the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider a ban on mandating that accessing abortion medication be in person in the future.
The FDA in April ended restrictions on mailing abortion pills during the pandemic, after the former Trump administration moved to keep the decades-old requirement for in-person pickup of the drug mifepristone amid the public health emergency surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. It did not, however, address whether the practice would stay in place after the pandemic.
Sponsors of the resolution, lead by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), said in a statement Thursday that lifting in-person restrictions for the drug mifepristone, one of two pills administered in early pregnancy abortion, will not lessen its safety.
"Mifepristone is extremely safe — the FDA's own data confirms this," Maloney said in a statement. "It's time that we trust the science and ensure access to safe, legal abortion, particularly for communities where abortion care has been historically pushed out of reach."
Abortion is known to become less safe where it is highly restricted or less accessible, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said.
"For people already experiencing health disparities — including people of color, people with lower incomes, and people in rural communities — the FDA's restrictions often push access to medication abortion out of reach," Lee said. "We cannot allow discriminatory stigma to keep people from accessing the health care they deserve."
The likelihood of complications from going through a medication abortion is less than 1 percent, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and almost 40 percent of people seeking an abortion in the U.S. use FDA-approved medication, according to the Guttmacher Institute.