On Tuesday, the Trump administration made its second request to the Supreme Court to reinstate a rule that patients must pick up an abortion pill in person from a hospital, clinic, or medical office during the covid-19 pandemic. Despite the Trump administration’s choice to suspend requirements for similar in-person visits for other drugs, including some opioids, they have refused to provide the same leniency surrounding the abortion pill.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang denied the administration’s request to reinstate the rule, instead noting that the health risks for patients have actually grown worse since the rule was suspended.
“While the progress on vaccines and medical treatments for COVID-19 are cause for optimism and may advance the day that the Preliminary Injunction will no longer be warranted, the impact of these advances to date has not meaningfully altered the current health risks and obstacles to women seeking medication abortions.”
Judge Chuang is the same federal judge who agreed to suspend the rule back in July, temporarily preventing the Food and Drug Administration from enforcing the “in-person” requirements for dispensing the drug mifepristone (which can be used in combination with misoprostol to end an early pregnancy or manage a miscarriage) during the pandemic.
In October, the Supreme Court ruled that women were allowed to continue getting the abortion pill by mail during the pandemic for the time being, deferring a more substantive ruling. Although it’s possible that the Supreme Court could now reinstate the rule, the new Presidential administration would be able to suspend it again after Joe Biden takes office in January.