Supreme Court Upholds Trump Administration’s Restrictions on Telemedicine Abortions
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from the Trump administration Tuesday evening to restore a rule requiring women to have an in-person visit with a medical professional prior to receiving abortion-inducing drugs.
In a 6-3 vote, the Court halted a lower court’s decision to allow the mailing of abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to women who wish to end their pregnancies at home as long as the pandemic continues.
Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, an Obama appointee, granted a preliminary injunction in July after pro-abortion groups filed a lawsuit.
The Trump administration appealed the ruling, arguing it would be safer for women to see a doctor prior to taking the drugs because of safety concerns.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the order:
The question before us is not whether the requirements for dispensing mifepristone impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion as a general matter. The question is instead whether the District Court properly ordered the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] to lift those established requirements because of the court’s own evaluation of the impact of the COVID–19 [Chinese coronavirus] pandemic. Here as in related contexts concerning government responses to the pandemic, my view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the “background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.” South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom, 590 U. S. ___, ___ (2020) (ROBERTS, C. J., concurring in denial of application for injunctive relief) (slip op., at 2). In light of those considerations, I do not see a sufficient basis here for the District Court to compel the FDA to alter the regimen for medical abortion.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent, joined by Justice Elena Kagan, in which she said:
Because the FDA’s policy imposes an unnecessary, unjustifiable, irrational, and undue burden on women seeking an abortion during the current pandemic, and because the Government has not demonstrated irreparable harm from the injunction, I dissent.
In late April, Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson referred to telemedicine abortion as the “silver lining” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman the fact that many states have attempted to include elective abortions among other procedures that should be temporarily banned to preserve scarce medical equipment for healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients is “unconscionable.”
The CEO of the nation’s largest abortion provider said the “silver lining” of the pandemic has been the launch of Planned Parenthood’s new tele-abortion service in which women seeking an abortion have a virtual meeting with an abortion provider and obtain a prescription for abortion-inducing drugs they take at home.
“It is actually a silver lining in this pandemic, that Planned Parenthood and many other health providers have actually been able to really lean into telehealth infrastructure and provide service,” she said.
Planned Parenthood has been touting an increase in at-home abortions since its tele-abortion services began nationwide, though many pro-life advocates have concerns about the practice.
Specifically, mifepristone, one of the drugs used in a medication abortion, is not approved under the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), but women are obtaining it illegally from overseas.
“This is a medication that definitely has dangers associated with it,” Dr. Christina Francis, an Indiana-based OB/GYN and chairman of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly.
Francis said some immediate complications of mifepristone could be:
… hemorrhage, the immediate possibility of infection, and the possibility of failure, where the pregnancy doesn’t fully pass from the medication and then leading to sometimes the requirement for emergent surgery for that woman because of either ongoing bleeding or the risk of infection.
Francis added that because of the uncertainties associated with the pandemic, many women “are being influenced by fear right now, and this is being perpetuated by the abortion industry.”
One Planned Parenthood official in New York State boasted in April that the organization’s new tele-abortion service is so much in demand that one mother began her drug-induced abortion “at home with her children running around behind her.”
Dr. Meera Shah, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, told the Associated Press (AP):
We provided a medication abortion to an EMT while she was sitting in her ambulance. We provided abortion care to a mother who was at home with her children running around behind her.
Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explained in his videos about various abortion procedures that mifepristone blocks the action of progesterone, which the mother’s body produces to nourish the pregnancy. When progesterone is blocked, the lining of the mother’s uterus deteriorates, and blood and nourishment are cut off to the developing baby, who then dies inside the mother’s womb.
The drug misoprostol (also called Cytotec) then causes contractions and bleeding to expel the baby from the mother’s uterus.
In a Washington Update column in May, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote Planned Parenthood’s Johnson referring to more tele-abortions as a “silver lining” of the coronavirus means “more deaths — more innocent, unborn, child fatalities made possible by their money-hungry network.”
With Planned Parenthood’s tele-abortion expansion to all 50 states, Perkins said, more women will have at-home “chemically-induced procedures that carry significant risks”:
They tell women that it’ll be simple, natural, safe, and private process. They’ll recover in a day, maybe two. What they don’t tell them is that they might deliver a tiny, perfectly-formed child. Or that they’ll experience labor pains, heavy bleeding, vomiting, or lose consciousness. They don’t talk about the depression, anger, anxiety, panic attacks, and substance abuse that follow. Or the weeks to months of recovery time, usually managed alone.
“This is Planned Parenthood’s ‘silver lining,’” Perkins concluded. “Babies who don’t have a chance at life, women who are haunted and harmed.”
In September, more than 90 members of Congress wrote to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, urging him to classify mifepristone as a “hazard” or “threat of danger” in order to have it removed from the U.S. market.
Pro-life millennial group Students for Life of America Called the Supreme Court ruling “a life-saving decision” and a “victory of commonsense.”
Kristan Hawkins, the group’s president said:
The abortion lobby’s misuse of the COVID crisis to force distribution of chemical abortion pill online by running to court shows how little they care about what happens to women taking the deadly drugs. Women have died taking these deadly drugs, and the Supreme Court made the right decision in restoring health and safety standards.
The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) President Thomas Glessner applauded the Supreme Court for acknowledging the health and safety concerns associated with abortion-inducing drugs:
In its first abortion case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court, SCOTUS has ruled to protect women from dangerous abortion drugs. This ruling represents a major pro-life victory against an abortion industry that consistently puts profit margins ahead of the welfare of mothers and unborn babies. We hope these federal regulations protecting women will remain in place and that this will be the first of many such rulings to come.
As the Christian Post reported, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed a bill into law Saturday banning telemedicine abortions in that state.
The law now requires women to take abortion-inducing drugs in the presence of a physician.
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis celebrated the new law, calling it “a victory for life and for women’s safety.”
“Although every chemical abortion is a tragedy than ends a baby’s life, this law helps prevent further loss of life by protecting women from an abortion industry which puts profits before safety,” he said.