Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) continues his anti-democratic rule with his latest decree threatening medical providers not to adhere to the Food and Drug Administration’s latest rule expanding pharmacy access to the abortion drug mifepristone.
Mifepristone is used along with misoprostol in medical abortions.
After the FDA announced the change in federal policy on January 3rd, the DeSantis administration sent out a letter from the Agency for Health Care Administration threatening providers with possible criminal prosecution if found in violation of Florida’s anti-abortion laws.
“No termination of pregnancy shall be performed at any time except by a [licensed] physician,” one of the state’s two abortion laws states, according to Daily Kos.
Abortions after 15 weeks are banned in Florida.
A 24-hour waiting period, ultrasound, counseling, and in-person appointments are mandatory prior to the reproductive healthcare procedure – despite the FDA ruling that mifepristone can be prescribed remotely.
It is unlawful for any person to perform or assist in performing an abortion on a person, except in an emergency care situation, other than in a validly licensed hospital or abortion clinic or in a physician’s office. – Florida statute 797.03
Florida medical providers got this note from Ron DeSantis yesterday. Basically: the FDA’s decision on abortion pills does not apply here. “Willfully violating… could result in criminal penalties.” pic.twitter.com/BYfL5YSPVA
— Caroline Kitchener (@CAKitchener) January 12, 2023
Over half of the abortions in the United States are non-surgical, and increasing access to mifepristone in big box chains and online pharmacies will allow women to receive a prescription via a telehealth consultation and receive the pills through the mail, the Associated Press reported.
In a move described as an “important step forward,” by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the group applauded the Biden Administration’s actions.
Although the FDA’s announcement today will not solve access issues for every person seeking abortion care, it will allow more patients who need mifepristone for medication abortion additional option s to secure the vital drug.
DeSantis’ actions are likely more performative than legal, but providers intimidated by the governor’s move could be reluctant to carry the drug at all – although most medical abortions occur within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, and Florida statutes ban non-emergency reproductive health care at 15 weeks.
History and precedent are on the federal government’s side. In 2014, the state of Massachusetts wanted to restrict access to opioids in contradiction to the FDA’s recommendation, but a court ruled that federal law superseded state law and allowing Masachusetts to subvert the FDA would “undermine the FDA’s ability to make drugs available to promote and protect the public health.”
The Agency for Health Care Administration’s directive is the latest in Gov. DeSantis’ weaponization of state agencies to further his own agenda ahead of 2024.
The Trump-inspired potential Presidential candidate is seen as a front-runner among MAGA voters and big-money GOP donors–for now.
Original reporting by Laura Clawson at Daily Kos.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick