Indiana co-authors amicus brief in COVID-19 abortion drug case

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office co-authored an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after a federal district court lifted certain medication-assisted abortion drug regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must suspend several of its normal rules during the pandemic — including a requirement that mifepristone, an abortion drug, be dispensed only in a clinic, medical office or hospital. A district judge ruled the in-person requirement for patients seeking a medication abortion constitute a “substantial obstacle” and are likely unconstitutional amid the pandemic.

The 11-state amicus brief filed in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, argues the FDA rules protect women’s health and “are not unduly burdensome even in the current public health emergency.”

Indiana and Louisiana, joined by nine other states, filed the amicus brief Monday in American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, v. United States Food and Drug Administration, 20-1824, in support of FDA’s motion for stay pending appeal. The amici argue that federal courts should not use the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to interfere in the FDA’s regulation of chemical abortions.

Amici states, the brief says, have statutes either directly invoking or imposing requirements similar to the enjoined Elements to Assure Safe Use and, except for Texas, moved to intervene to defend the mifepristone Risk Evaluation & Mitigation Strategy ETASU.

The district court denied, and the states that moved to intervene have separately appealed from both the denial of their intervention and the preliminary injunction, the brief says. Amici urge the 4th Circuit Court to stay the district court’s preliminary injunction pending both appeals.

“When a woman ingests mifepristone for the purpose of aborting a fetus, she not only ends the life of her unborn child, but also undergoes significant risks to her own body,” Attorney General Hill said in a statement. “Federal and state laws require physical examinations and in-person dispensing of mifepristone to ensure that physicians check for contraindications and that women fully understand the risks.”

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