The American Civil Liberties Union, looking to improve the accessibility of abortion pills, has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration.
The ACLU is challenging FDA restrictions governing Mifeprex, the name of the abortion pill in the United States.
In a blog post, the ACLU said that it has joined with the ACLU of Hawaii and other medical providers focused on women’s health to challenge what it considers as “onerous and medically unnecessary” restrictions that the FDA imposes on Mifeprex.
Mifeprex allows women to undergo a process similar to an early miscarriage inside their own home, allowing them to end a pregnancy on their own terms. According to the ACLU, almost 3 million women within the United States have used it since the abortion pill received approval from the FDA in 2000.
However, the FDA requires Mifeprex to only be dispensed at a medical facility with the supervision of a certified provider. The providers need to register with the manufacturer of the drug, maintain stocks of the abortion pill, and should be capable of carrying out a surgical abortion in case of any complications. This means that the abortion pill is not available by prescription in pharmacies across the United States.
“The abortion pill is safe, effective and legal. So why is the FDA keeping it locked away from women who need it?” said ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project attorney Julia Kaye.
Graham Chelius, one of the plaintiffs in the ACLU lawsuit against the FDA, works in the Hawaiian island of Kauai, where there are currently no registered abortion providers. As such, patients in the area who carry an unwanted pregnancy are forced to carry it to term or have to fly to another island to purchase Mifeprex, delaying the procedure and adding significant costs.
Abortion was the subject of intense scrutiny early this year, with Republicans in the Senate presenting the nationwide Heartbeat Bill before Donald Trump was inaugurated as President. The Heartbeat Bill, the country-wide version of the Ohio Heartbeat Bill, aims to ban abortions at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, which means that all abortions made after the sixth week of pregnancy will be a felony. President Trump then restricted funding by foreign groups to be used for family planning initiatives from being used for abortions.
This all comes amid reports that abortion rates in the United States had fallen to its lowest since the procedure was legalized in 1973. The authors of the survey that made the claim attributed the decline to better contraception and abortion restrictions across some states.
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