Schakowsky Blasts Supreme Court Ruling on Abortion Pill Access

January 13, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, issued the following statement:

“Last night, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump Administration’s request to reinstate the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) harmful in-person dispensing requirement for the abortion medication, Mifepristone. Despite warnings from public health experts about the increased risk of catching COVID-19, and the Trump Administration’s encouraged use of telehealth during the pandemic, the FDA has refused to relax its rules around Mifepristone. Now, even as COVID-19 infection and death rates soar, patients will again be required to travel in person to a health center for no medical reason. Everyone should be able to access the abortion care they need, without needless obstacles, burdens, or stigma. Abortion care is health care.”

“In June 2020, my colleagues and I warned FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn about the dangers this rule imposes, warning the agency that the in-person dispensing requirement for Mifepristone creates an illogical situation in a time where logic is vital to beat this pandemic. To subject people to this outdated requirement, just to pick up a pill and sign a form, puts them, their families, and their doctors at risk of COVID-19. A patient can meet with her doctor by telehealth appointments, take the pills, and safely have her abortion at home, then follow up with her doctor via telehealth after the abortion. Instead, in its first decision on abortion with Justice Coney Barrett on the bench, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to require vulnerable Americans to travel during a global pandemic to pick up some pills. For many patients, this might mean taking public transportation, riding in someone else’s car, or traveling hundreds of miles away from home – increasing risk for infection. It also means that some providers and staff are forced to have unnecessary in-person interactions that increase their own exposure risks.”

“The U.S. Supreme Court writes that courts owe the FDA significant deference due to its background, competence, and expertise to assess public health. Out of more than 20,000 FDA-approved drugs, Mifepristone is the only one that the FDA forces patients to pick up in a clinical setting, even though patients are free to self-administer it at home. Rather than focus on science and steps to provide safe access to medications during a public health emergency, the FDA and Trump Administration lawyers have wasted precious time fighting to put pregnant women’s lives at risk – the opposite of showing scientific integrity, competence and expertise to assess public health. It is disgusting and outrageous, and the Biden-Harris Administration should immediately undo this harm to ensure that everyone who needs this essential health care can access it.”