Abortion Advocates Call On FDA To Remove Restrictions On Abortion Drugs Over Coronavirus Crisis, Push Abortion Telemedicine

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  • Abortion advocates expressed fear that abortion access will be impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
  • Advocates and media outlets suggested the Food and Drug Administration should remove protections on abortion drugs and increase access to abortion telemedicine.
  • Abortion organizations like the Planned Parenthood Action Fund fundraise through correlating abortion access and the coronavirus.

Abortion advocates expressed fear that access may be impacted by the coronavirus crisis, suggesting the Food and Drug Administration should remove protections on abortion drugs and increase access to abortion telemedicine.

These advocates said access might be hindered as abortion doctors fall ill to coronavirus, leaving communities with few to no abortion doctors, and called for donations to support the organizations and providers still offering abortions. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) drew on the coronavirus pandemic and called for donations Wednesday.

“We are working tirelessly to ensure that everyone gets the care they need, and to advocate for policies that protect and expand our health and rights — but we need your help,” the email stated above a “Donate Now” button.

PPAF did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

 

— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) March 13, 2020

 

“We hope you’re practicing social distancing and encouraging your friends and family to do the same, but with this administration’s stumbling response to the crisis, we know you may want to do more,” the email said, before offering tips on what to do while social distancing, including reading  up on the “ways the Trump administration has weakened our health care system and undermined its ability to handle an adequate, life-saving response,” and more.

A major talking point for abortion advocates and media outlets during the pandemic is expanding access to abortion telemedicine — allowing doctors to prescribe the abortion pill mifeprisone over long distance.

Mother Jones ran the story, “The Coronavirus Is Making the Case for Abortion Via Telemedicine,” while HuffPost warned that “Abortion Access Is Under Threat As Coronavirus Spreads,” and Vice suggested “The FDA Could Improve Abortion Access Under Coronavirus But It Won’t.”

 

— Dr. Dustin Costescu (@BirthControlDoc) March 10, 2020

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of the abortion drug mifepristone (also called Mifeprex) up to 10 weeks’ gestation but some abortion providers still use the abortion drug during the second trimester of a pregnancy.

The FDA, which did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF, also warns that buyers “should not buy Mifeprex over the Internet because you will bypass important safeguards designed to protect your health (and the health of others).”

Vice reported that “reproductive health researchers” are urging the federal government to remove restrictions on these abortion drugs due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the FDA remains steadfast in its regulation of the drugs. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Republican Lawmakers Warn FDA Against Calls To Remove Restrictions On Abortion Drugs)

“Certain restrictions, known as a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS), are necessary for mifepristone when used for medical termination of early pregnancy in order to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks,” the FDA Office of Media Affairs told Vice.

Others express concerns that the coronavirus will negatively affect the number of abortion doctors in a community if these doctors are required to divert their attentions to the pandemic rather than offer abortions.

 

A medical worker produces traditional Chinese medicine to treat patients infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus at a hospital in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province on March 2, 2020. (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Guttmacher Institute released a March 11 report on how the coronavirus might impact abortion access, warning that “policymakers, providers and advocates must be aware of the broad links between the global outbreak response and sexual and reproductive health and rights in order to prepare to mitigate the impact.”

“Health care providers are being diverted to help address the epidemic while also being most at risk of acquiring the disease,” the report said. “This may create a shortage of clinicians who can provide sexual and reproductive health services and increase wait times for patients in need. In places that already have a limited number of providers, this will put an extreme strain on capacity to serve patients, especially for non-emergency care.”

The report urged people in need of contraception or medications to stock up on these products in case of shortages, and warned that women might be in extra need of abortion if it is found that pregnant women or infants are at a heightened risk from the coronavirus.

“That was the case in many countries hit hard by the Zika virus in 2015 and 2016,” the report added.

Abortion Dr. Daniel Grossman stressed the need to support women who may not be able to get abortions “due to financial and logistical barriers” during natural disasters such as hurricanes or pandemics.

Grossman, who did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF, wants to increase access to abortion telemedicine to enable abortion.

 

“When it comes to abortion, time is of the essence—if they stay home and wait out the recommended 14 day period, that puts them 2 weeks later into their pregnancy and they may not be able to be seen at their nearest clinic or go past their state’s gestational limit altogether,” Grossman tweeted.

Patients who have immunodeficiencies may not be able to go outside and wait in a clinic for their abortion,” he added in another tweet. “Incarcerated patients, disabled patients, and others who are quarantined may not be able to leave their homes to go to a clinic for abortions. They still need the abortion.” 

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