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Abortion pill could be next legal battleground

Florida is one of at least 19 states that has banned physicians from prescribing abortion drugs over the phone or online.
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Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 20:36:21-04

The Biden administration is promising to expand access to abortion medication to women in all 50 states.

In Florida, according to the CDC, nearly half of all abortions are performed using a medication, like mifepristone.

It’s an abortion method that doesn’t require surgery.

The FDA, which approved the drug more than two decades ago, calls it safe and effective.

“A medication abortion is another kind of medication that is administered under the care of a physician,” said Stephanie Fraim, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

The treatment consists of two drugs taken in a 48-hour period.

It can only be used in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

In 2020, the FDA allowed doctors to skip the in-person consultation and send the medication to patients after an online or over-the-phone visit.

Under Florida law, however, patients are required to have an in-person visit to get the medicine.

“We don’t send (the drugs) to anyone’s house,” said Fraim, “nor can you mail order it into Florida.”

“There are lots of things that can go wrong without supervision,” said John Stemberger, President of the anti-abortion group, Florida Family Policy Council.

“That’s why in Florida we require a face-to-face consultation with a physician before these powerful abortion drugs are being taken.”

This week, the Biden administration pledged to expand abortion medication access to all 50 states.

But Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra stopped short of giving specifics.

“Medication abortion, those treatments that FDA has signed off on as safe and effective, are available to be prescribed. On what conditions? Stay tuned,” Becerra said.

In the days since the Supreme Court overturned Roe Vs. Wade offshore abortion providers have promised to supply abortion medication to women in all 50 states.

Florida law only punishes abortion providers, not the patients and it’s difficult to enforce the ban on someone out of the country.

Stemberger believes the abortion pill might be the next battleground in court.

“There’s a lot of enforceability issues that are not clear. And there’s gonna be a lot of litigation over this,” said Stemberger.

“Because you’re gonna have a lot of out-of-state doctors and out-of-country doctors that are gonna attempt this telemedicine, trying to have these chemical abortions prescribed.”

Thursday, a state judge in Tallahassee will decide if the state’s 15-week abortion ban will go into effect.

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