New York Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement in support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) decision today to permanently allow abortion pills by mail:
“As reproductive rights continue to be under attack across our nation, the FDA’s decision today to permanently allow access to abortion pills by mail is a major step to protect the right to abortion services. During the pandemic, my office successfully urged the FDA to expand access to the abortion pill because no one should be forced to risk their health while exercising their constitutional right to an abortion. Despite this progress, we know that there will be pushback from states that wish to deny these rights. We are prepared to fight back and do everything in our power to protect our rights.”
In February 2021, Attorney General James led a coalition of attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists et al. v. FDA et al., where she encouraged an appeals court to uphold a lower court’s preliminary injunction that provided patients with safe access to medication abortions via telehealth and to extend that injunction to cover miscarriage treatment, all in an effort to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The preliminary injunction, previously issued, partly paused a FDA requirement that forces women to appear in person in a clinical setting to receive a drug known as mifepristone for an early abortion and miscarriage treatment, making the drug readily accessible via telehealth and mail delivery for abortion patients, so as to not potentially expose those patients to COVID-19 by requiring unnecessary travel.
The amicus brief followed up on three previous amicus briefs filed in this case by a coalition of states led by Attorney General James — in the U.S. District Court for the District for Maryland in June 2020, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in August 2020, and in the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2020 — asking those courts to issue or leave in effect the preliminary injunction suspending the FDA’s in-person requirements for mifepristone.
The four amicus briefs also followed up on a letter Attorney General James sent, in March 2020, to both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the FDA, requesting that the Trump Administration waive or utilize its discretion not to enforce a specific designation that dictated and subsequently impeded patients’ access to reproductive care, including medication abortions.
Attorney General James called on the Trump Administration to ensure that patients across the country could more easily access this critical health care service while the pandemic left many unable to seek in-person care.