A US federal judge has ruled that a regulation requiring that women seeking an abortion pill visit a provider in-person is likely to be unconstitutional during a pandemic.
This means that healthcare providers can now send the pill to patients in the post. District Judge Theodore Chuang did not set any geographic limitations on the ruling but noted states could continue to regulate the drug in accordance with their specific laws.
“By causing certain patients to decide between forgoing or substantially delaying abortion care, or risking exposure to Covid-19 for themselves, their children, and family members, the In-Person Requirements present a serious burden to many abortion patients,” he ruled.
He noted that infringing on the right to an abortion “would constitute irreparable harm”. Putting a pause on the rule amid Covid-19, he added, was in line with public health guidance.
The challenge to the rule was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued the rule presented an undue burden on women because of Covid-19. Government lawyers had argued that the rule was necessary to keep patients safe.