Fifty years after Roe, Florida targets abortion pill; Women’s health care options are dwindling

By Noreen Marcus,

New Florida laws threaten pharmacists and doctors to treat abortion pills like banned drugs and punish their use outside strict limits.

Florida has been an oasis for women from neighboring anti-abortion states seeking medical procedures to safely end their pregnancies, but that was before last year’s sea change in reproductive rights. In June, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which was decided 50 years ago today.

In April, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a Florida law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with no exceptions for rape, incest or sex trafficking. Controlled by the DeSantis appointments, the Florida Supreme Court is expected to uphold the law against the privacy challenge.

Now the Republican-led Legislature explicitly wants to decriminalize pill-induced abortion. As of this month, Florida’s law that criminalizes direct access to abortion pills conflicts with federal guidance that allows it.

Because state laws are difficult to enforce, the underlying strategy seems to be intimidation through threats of criminal prosecution.

‘Death by mail’ sparks a threat

State Representative Anna Eskamani

“Oh you know. Just an average day in Florida where health providers get threatening emails from the state, this time about abortion,” state Rep.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on January 3 authorized pharmacies to dispense the abortion pill, mifepristone.

Meanwhile, Florida is going in the opposite direction with other staunchly anti-choice states. Despite polls that show majority support for most abortions, the DeSantis administration is giving opponents what they want.

“Today we face a new frontier of abortion – no-test chemical abortion delivery – in short, death by mail at your doorstep,” Kristen Hawkins of Students for Life of America said on a press call in December. 2021.

On January 11, Florida’s Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA) emailed this “all alert” warning to physicians and pharmacists “in light of the FDA’s actions”: “The agency will report any evidence of criminal activity to local law enforcement.” which it discovers in its surveys of providers.

Florida’s stance ‘heavy handed’

The offense would be a violation of the new state law which provides that “no termination of pregnancy shall be performed at any time except [licensed] doctor.

Also as of last month, “It is unlawful for any person … to perform an abortion on any person … except in a lawfully licensed hospital or abortion clinic or physician’s office.” There is an exception for medical emergencies.

Elizabeth Nash

Violation is punishable by a fine of $500 for a second-degree felony or $5,000 for a third-degree felony.

The AHCA email is unusual, according to Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research associate at Planned Parenthood based in Washington, DC.

“I think this tells us that Florida’s governor and policy makers are trying to further restrict access to abortion care,” Nash told WUSF, a public media radio station in Tampa.

“You don’t even usually see this around abortion, which is the most regulated medical service in the country. So, it felt very heavy-handed. It is what it is. It’s a deterrent, especially for pharmacies.”

Florida Pharmacists Say Nothing

The Florida laws are worded obliquely, but the message is clear: A woman cannot take a prescription to her neighborhood CVS or Walgreens and buy mifepristone pills for use in the privacy of her own home. Anyone helping him in violation of accepted procedures is liable to be prosecuted.

To comply with the law, women who are no more than 10 weeks pregnant must schedule two doctor’s appointments at a licensed abortion facility around a 24-hour waiting period. The woman has to take the first abortion pill in front of her doctor; He is allowed to take the second shot at home.

The Florida Pharmacy Association has so far refrained from wading into the abortion pill debate, even though its members could be prosecuted for following a federal guideline. Association did not respond Florida Bulldogs Request for comment.

However, the issue is not likely to die out due to lack of oxygen anytime soon. The end of Roe seems to have only excited those who want to ban all abortions nationwide.

They’ve added a new battlefield: drug-induced abortion. In Texas, a federal judge is challenging the new FDA guideline. Few would be surprised to see a similar legal effort in Florida.

Neither side is backing down in the abortion war. On Friday, anti-abortion activists rallied on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and the Women’s March held a main rally in Madison, WI, and others across the country to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

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