Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) on Thursday introduced the Protecting Access to Medication Abortion Act, which seeks to codify current Food and Drug Administration guidelines around abortion drugs in states that will continue to provide abortion care in a post-Roe world. The bill would ensure that people could still order pills for medication abortion through telehealth and mail-order pharmacies in these states.
“As we stand on the precipice of this partisan Supreme Court preparing to overturn Roe, one of the things we have to do is protect access to abortion care in states where it will still be legal,” Smith told HuffPost. “With that in mind, I’m introducing this bill which would just put into law current FDA rules and guidelines for medication abortion. This is safe and effective medicine.”
Smith’s bill comes days ahead of a Supreme Court decision that is expected to dismantle Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that afforded federal protections to abortion. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, centers on a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban which will likely move the gestational limit from 24 to 15 weeks, or overturn Roe altogether.
Medication abortion is a combination of two drugs — mifepristone and misoprostol — first approved by the FDA in 2000 for miscarriage and abortion care before the 10-week point. It’s also the most common abortion method in the country, accounting for about 60% of all abortions in the U.S. When used together, mifepristone and misoprostol are more than 95% effective and safer than Tylenol, but they are highly regulated.
During the pandemic, the FDA temporarily lifted an in-person dispensing requirement in order to help curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting face-to-face interactions, which allowed abortion providers to prescribe medication abortion via telehealth. This means that in states that like California, New York and Colorado, online pharmacies can virtually prescribe abortion pills to patients and send medication by mail for people to take in the comfort of their homes. The temporary lifting of restrictions was so successful that the FDA permanently…