Tennessee advances bill banning abortion pills in the mail

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republicans in Tennessee are proposing legislation that would strictly regulate the distribution of abortion pills, including imposing stiff penalties on doctors who violate them.

The bill is part of a nationwide coordinated effort by anti-abortion groups in response to the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent decision allowing women to pick up abortion drugs in person.

Several Republican-controlled states have introduced similar measures across the country this year that would set out a long list of new rules regarding medical abortion.

According to the Tennessee version, the delivery of abortion pills by mail would be prohibited and anyone wishing to use abortion pills would be required to consult a doctor beforehand and then return for the pills. Drugs can only be dispensed by qualified doctors, effectively preventing pharmacists from doing so. Violators would face a Class E felony and a fine of up to $50,000.

The bill would also ban the supply of abortion pills in state high schools, colleges and universities.

The full House and Senate must pass the proposal, where it is likely to succeed due to Republican supermajorities in both houses. Republican Gov. Bill Lee has not publicly weighed in on the measure, but he never vetoed the legislation while in office.

“This is an incredibly complicated drug that comes with several complications and possible side effects for the mother in addition to ending the life of the child in her womb,” Will Brewer said. , a lobbyist for Tennessee Right to Life, to lawmakers last month. “Due to the importance and complications of this drug, the intention is to have it provided in a doctor’s office to be as safe as possible.”

The in-person requirement has long been opposed by medical societies, including the American Medical Association, who say the restriction offers no clear benefit to patients.

Medical abortion has been available in the United States since 2000, when the FDA first approved mifepristone to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks old. Taken with another drug called misoprostol, it is the so-called abortion pill.

About 40% of all abortions in the United States are now performed by medication — rather than surgery — and this option has become more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Back To Top