July 15, 2020

Federal Judge Suspends REMS Restrictions on Abortion Pill Distribution

On Monday, a federal judge ruled that the FDA's Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) protocol could no longer be enforced on the distribution of abortion pills. This allows abortion providers to send pills over the mail for pregnant women to complete DIY-abortions.

REMS requirements are placed on drugs with the risk of complications and limited the distribution of abortion pills to hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. Women who wanted abortion pills would have to go to one of those locations in order to obtain them.

Pro-abortion advocates have used the COVID-19 pandemic to argue for the suspension or elimination of REMS requirements on abortion pills, but now a judge has sided with them in a lawsuit against the FDA.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that “in-person requirements” for obtaining the abortion pill create a “substantial obstacle” to abortion, saying, “in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm.” He added, “By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients.”

He is saying that the delay caused by needing to travel to a medical professional to obtain drugs which not only are designed to kill unborn children, but also can pose risk to women can cause "irreparable harm" (likely referring to the child's gestational age surpassing a state's maximum legal abortion age). Not only is this absurd, since traveling to a physician is hardly a "substantial obstacle," but it creates a danger to women. DIY abortions completed with the abortion pill regimen can potentially have life-threatening side-effects such as hemorrhage, and the risk is amplified if a woman has not had a medical professional check their pregnancy for potential conditions such as ectopic pregnancy.