Republican-Led States Restrict Telehealth Abortion Pill Distribution

Republican-Led States Restrict Telehealth Abortion Pill Distribution Republican-Led States Restrict Telehealth Abortion Pill Distribution (Phil Walter/Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 23 December 2021 12:06 PM

Most red states will limit access to abortion pills despite federal regulators' move to lift restrictions permanently on prescribing the drugs, the Washington Examiner reported.

The Biden administration, saying it wanted to reduce risks of exposure to COVID-19, temporarily suspended the in-person dispensing requirement for the two-pill medication regimen earlier this year. The agency later said it will permanently drop the rule.

Several Republican-led states have laws to limit access to the drug and supersede the updated Food and Drug Administration guidance, the Examiner reported Thursday.

Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, and West Virginia, as well as Democrat-led Louisiana, are states that have explicitly banned telehealth visits to prescribe abortion medication. There also are other restrictions, such as waiting periods or not by mail, on dispensing the drug.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, D-La., approved a mandate last summer that had abortion providers advise patients of a possible abortion reversal "if after taking the first pill you regret your decision," the Examiner reported.

Fifteen other states have mandated that a physician be present when the patient obtains the medication and during the procedure, effectively banning the use of telemedicine to prescribe and dispense the drug, the Examiner said.

Those states include Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The abortion-inducing drug combination mifepristone and misoprostol was approved by the FDA under the name Mifeprex in 2000. It can only be taken within the first 10 weeks of gestation.

A report from the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute revealed that 19 states enacted a total of 106 abortion laws this year, The Washington Free Beacon reported.

Earlier this the year, the FDA stopped enforcing the in-person dispensing requirement because of the pandemic. On Dec. 16, the agency said it will permanently drop the rule, which has long been opposed by medical societies, including the American Medical Association, that say the restrictions offer no clear benefit to patients.

The Supreme Court on Dec. 1 heard oral arguments on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, which concerns Mississippi’s ban on abortions 15 weeks into pregnancy. Advocates contend the law directly is opposed to Roe v. Wade, and they fear the case could be used to weaken or outright overturn Roe

The Associated Press contributed to this story.