Science

Judges say women should receive the abortion pill in person

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that women must visit a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic in person to obtain abortion pills during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite similar rules for other medications being suspended during a public health emergency.

Eight days before President Donald Trump leaves office, judges granted the Trump administration an appeal to be able to enforce a longstanding rule on obtaining the abortion pill, mifepristone. The pill does not need to be taken in the presence of medical professionals.

The court split 6-3, and the liberal judges disagreed. The new administration can delay a personal demand after Joe Biden takes office on January 20.

A federal judge had suspended the ruling since July due to the Coronavirus, in response to a lawsuit from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups.

US District Court Judge Theodore Chuang confirmed the rule’s suspension in December, saying the public health risks to patients have increased as COVID-19 cases have risen.

The FDA has approved mifepristone with a second drug, misoprostol, to terminate an early pregnancy or manage a miscarriage.

The administration has stopped similar in-person visits to other drugs, including opioids in some cases, but refused to relax the rules to get the abortion pill.

In October, the Supreme Court allowed women to continue obtaining abortion pills by mail but postponed any substantive ruling. Judges Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas said they would have agreed to the administration’s request at the time.

At the time, there were only eight judges on the court, with Judge Amy Connie Barrett being nominated, but not yet confirmed. Barrett took over as Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away in September.

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