SILVER SPRING, Md. — A judge has agreed to suspend a federal rule that requires women during the COVID-19 pandemic to visit a hospital, clinic or medical office to obtain an abortion pill.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland ruled Monday that the “in-person requirements” for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a “substantial obstacle” to abortion patients. Chuang said the requirements are likely unconstitutional under the pandemic’s circumstances.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other groups sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May to challenge the rule.
The judge didn’t set any geographic limitations on the injunction. He had previously rejected a move by 10 states to intervene in the lawsuit because they argued the case could impact how they enforce their own state laws that relate to or reference the FDA’s regulation of mifepristone. Chuang said the federal case would not eliminate any state’s ability to continue to regulate medication abortion “above and beyond” the FDA’s requirements.