Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill

A group of House Democrats pressed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Tuesday to lift “medically unnecessary” restriction on the abortion pill that have been in place for several years.

Under the FDA rule, mifepristone, which is used to end early pregnancies and treat early pregnancy loss, can only be dispensed in person, a requirement that has received renewed criticism during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Imposing this requirement in the midst of a deadly pandemic — one that has disproportionately impacted communities of color across the United States — needlessly places patients and providers in harm’s way, and further entrenches longstanding health inequities,” Chair Carolyn Maloney (N.Y.) and other Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee wrote in a letter to acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock.

Why now? Doctors and abortion rights groups have said for years that the in-person distribution requirement for mifepristone is medically unnecessary and should be removed. But the pandemic renewed the fight when the FDA paused similar requirements for other drugs but not mifepristone.

A legal battle ensued, and while it is still ongoing, the lawsuit would be moot if the FDA — now under the Biden administration — suspended the requirement, notes the American Civil Liberties Union, which is leading the litigation.