Biden Signs Presidential Memorandum On Ensuring Safe Access To Medication Abortion

On what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden issued an order to further protect access to medication abortion.

The Presidential Memorandum on Further Efforts to Protect Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services direct the Members of his Cabinet and the administration to identify barriers to access to prescription medication and to recommend actions to make sure that doctors can legally prescribe, that pharmacies can dispense, and that women can secure safe and effective medication for reproductive care.

Since the day of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, President Biden has emphasized the need to protect access to mifepristone, a drug used in medication abortion that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for more than 20 years and accounts for the majority of all abortions in the United States.

Earlier this month, the FDA took evidence-based action to support safe access to mifepristone by allowing the continued use of telehealth to prescribe the medication and creating a new option for certified pharmacies to dispense it to patients.

Some state officials have taken steps to try to prevent women from legally accessing medication abortion and to discourage pharmacies from becoming certified by the FDA.

In the face of barriers to medication abortion and concerns about the safety of patients, healthcare providers, and pharmacists, the Presidential Memorandum announces actions to protect legal access to medication abortion.

It directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS), to consider new guidance to support patients, providers, and pharmacies who wish to legally access, prescribe, or provide mifepristone—no matter where they live.

The Attorney General and the Secretaries of HHS and DHS will also provide recommendations to the White House Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Presidential Memorandum in Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday. To mark the 50th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, she spoke about the next steps in the fight for reproductive rights and reinforce the Biden Administration’s commitment to protecting access to abortion, including medication abortion.

“In Florida, healthcare providers face prison for up to five years for simply doing their job.”

“And now the state has also targeted medication abortion and even threatened Florida pharmacists with criminal charges if they provide medications prescribed by medical professionals”.

“Twenty-two states have announced they will not follow new federal rules that allow women to get medication prescribed by their doctor from a certified pharmacy,” Harris said.

Harris said that clinics are closing in states like Alabama, Missouri, and South Dakota, where patients have lost access to other basic care such as routine check-ups, cancer screenings, and contraception.

“And to everyone listening, be sure, no one is immune from these impacts, even in states that protect reproductive rights like New Jersey, Illinois, Oregon. Even then, people live in fear of what might be next because Republicans in Congress are now calling for a nationwide abortion ban,” Harris said.

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