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Abortion Pill Controversy Rages On In Texas, US

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Mifeprex, formerly called RU-486, is the brand name of the abortion pill called mifepristone.
Mifeprex, formerly called RU-486, is the brand name of the abortion pill called mifepristone.

Medication abortion continues to play a major role as the decades-long battle over reproductive rights rages on in the U.S.

During the special legislative session that began July 8, Texas lawmakers will reconsider a bill that would ban the provision of abortion medication by mail or delivery service, and ban pill-induced abortions after 7 weeks into the pregnancy.

Texas had the most severe restrictions on abortion during the pandemic and saw a 94% increase in requests for the telemedicine abortion service Aid Access — the largest escalation of any U.S. state — from March 20-April 11, 2020, compared to the beginning of the year.

According to a prominent abortion-rights research group, 19 states now require the clinician to provide abortion pills in person, effectively making it illegal to use telemedicine to see the patient and prescribe the pills.

The Food and Drug Administration suspended restrictions on abortion pills during the pandemic, allowing patients to receive the medication via telemedicine or through the mail, and is now considering whether to permanently reduce pre-pandemic federal controls or abolish them altogether.

The Supreme Court announced it will hear a case that poses a direct challenge to the landmark Roe v. Wade, which recognized a constitutional right to an abortion. A decision is expected in mid-2022.

What is the future of medication abortion in the U.S. and Texas? What are the potential implications of coming decisions from the FDA, SCOTUS and the Texas Legislature?

Is telemedicine a safe, effective way to secure the pills necessary to terminate a pregnancy? If so, why does this issue continued to be mired in controversy?

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*This interview was recorded on Monday, July 12.