Abortion Pill Now Available Without Doctor's Visit! Georgia's 6-Week Abortion Ban Blocked! Hooray!
Yesterday was a good day for reproductive rights — the kind of days that are very few and far between these days. One federal judge permanently blocked Georgia's bill banning abortion after six weeks, and another ruled that the the abortion pill can be prescribed and obtained without a visit to the doctor's office.
The author of the Georgia six-week abortion ban, state Rep. Ed Setzler, said he felt the law met legal standards and that he was attempting to establish the "personhood" of a fetus based on when its heart began to beat — because that sounds like just the kind of thing that might tug at someone's heart strings and make it easier to ban abortion. Since many people don't even know that they are pregnant before six weeks, the law essentially bans all abortion.
Of course, "fetal pole cardiac activity," as ob-gyn Jennifer Kerns explained to Wired earlier this year, is not so much a heartbeat as it is "is a group of cells with electrical activity. That's what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation. […] We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system."
US District Judge Steven Jones did not buy Rep. Setzler's argument, did not think it met any "legal standards," and, in a 67-page ruling, laid out how the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment, stating, "it is in the public interest, and is this court's duty, to ensure constitutional rights are protected. The state of Georgia's abortion laws that were in effect prior to [this law] remain in effect."
Love you, district court Judge Steven Jones.
Up north in Maryland, US District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that the in-person requirements to obtain the abortion pill — meaning that in order to get a medical abortion, you have to go to the doctor and the doctor has to personally give it to you and then you have to sign a form saying you understand the risks — were a "substantial obstacle" during the current pandemic, thus violating the constitutional rights of those seeking a medication abortion.
This is obviously a very good thing, because no one should have to risk their lives going to a doctor's office during a pandemic to get an abortion.
Via ABC News:
"Particularly in light of the limited timeframe during which a medication abortion or any abortion must occur, such infringement on the right to an abortion would constitute irreparable harm," the judge wrote in his 80-page decision.
Chuang's ruling will allow healthcare providers to arrange for mifepristone to be mailed or delivered to patients during the public health emergency declared by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone to be used in combination with a second drug, misoprostol, to end an early pregnancy or manage a miscarriage.
"By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to COVID-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients," Chuang wrote.
It sure does.
During the pandemic, regulators have removed the in-person requirements of many drugs that are given by doctors and then self-administered at home, and the abortion pill should be no different. The fact is, if someone really wants to end a pregnancy, they're going to find a way to do it one way or another and taking the abortion pill is a whole lot safer than most other methods.
In this current climate, days in which reproductive rights are in the news and not for a horrifying reason are few and far between, so we should all take some time to appreciate it until tomorrow when some other state will probably try to institute the death penalty for getting an IUD.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse