Judge halts Ohio restrictions on chemical abortions

Abortion pill Ivanko80/Shutterstock

An Ohio judge on Monday halted the state’s requirement that the abortion pill regimen be administered in-person.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) had signed Senate Bill 260 into law on Jan. 9, requiring physicians to be present in administering the initial dose of the abortion pill regimen; the abortion pill was barred from being administered remotely through telemedicine.

Planned Parenthood and its Ohio affiliate sued over the law, and on April 6, Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison Hatheway issued a temporary restraining order on enforcement of the law until April 19. On Monday, Judge Hatheway granted a preliminary injunction in the case, halting the law from going into effect while the court determines the case.

“Today’s ruling protects telemedicine abortion access for our patients, at least temporarily,” stated Iris E. Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.

Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO and Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated, “At a moment when access to telemedicice is gravely needed, states should be expanding all telehealth services, including abortion.”

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it would allow for remote prescribing and dispensing of the abortion pill regimen during the pandemic. Since 2000, the FDA has placed the regimen on its list of higher-risk drugs and procedures which are subject to greater regulation. The administration historically required the abortion pill to be prescribed in-person by a certified prescriber in a health clinic setting.

Pro-abortion groups sought to loosen the regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, claiming that women seeking chemical abortions were at greater risk of contracting the virus by traveling to a health clinic. The Trump administration fought in court against attempts to suspend the regulations during the pandemic.

However, the Biden administration has since allowed for the regimen to be prescribed remotely and delivered through the mail or by mail-order pharmacies, during the pandemic.

Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, stated at his confirmation hearing that he wished for an expansion of telemedicine, in response to a question about the remote prescribing and dispensing of the abortion pill.

The abortion pill regimen involves the use of two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol. The first, mifepristone, cuts off the supply of nutrients to the unborn child; the second, misoprostol, contracts the uterus to expel the deceased child.

The group Ohio Right to Life claimed that Planned Parenthood had been using telemedicine for years to perform chemical abortions remotely.

“Planned Parenthood’s use of telemedicine to dispense abortion-inducing drugs cuts their own costs at the expense of basic health and safety standards. Patient safety shouldn’t have a price tag. Women deserve better,” the group stated in January when the law was signed.

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