Oversight committee Democrats call on HHS to make abortion pills more accessible

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y.), chair of the House Oversight Committee, along with Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) urge the Department of Health and Human Services to make abortion pills more accessible.

Driving the news: In a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, lawmakers say the federal government must “ensure that medical abortion is accessible, affordable, and convenient for patients who seek it,” as conservative states continue to make it harder to get abortion pills.

  • The letter was signed by all of the Democratic women on the committee.

Catch up fast: The Food and Drug Administration issued new guidelines in December making permanent the pandemic-era guidelines on pill access, which allowed people to access drugs via telemedicine and receive pills by mail.

Between the lines: Abortion rights activists have heralded abortion pills as a potential option in places where clinics may have to close if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

What they say : “Expanding access to medical abortion services outside of clinics, hospitals, and doctors’ offices removes barriers to care for low-income patients, including financial burdens associated with travel, arranging child care and absence from work,” the committee members wrote.

  • “For communities where abortion care has historically been out of reach — including people of color, low-income people, people with disabilities, and people in rural communities — making it easier to access abortion care. medical abortion is essential to advancing reproductive justice.”

State of play: Lawmakers ask the HHS Reproductive Health Care Access Task Force to determine steps that can be taken to protect and expand access to medical abortion care consistent with the recent elimination of the medically unnecessary requirement for in-person distribution of mifepristone.

By the numbers: Mifepristone was initially approved for use by the FDA in 2000. Two decades later, research from the Guttmacher Institute shows that in 2020, medical abortion accounted for 54% of all reported abortions in the United States .

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