On April 12th, the FDA submitted a letter to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stating that the FDA has suspended restrictions on mifepristone that require patients to come to the clinic in person to receive the medication for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Mifepristone, which is one of the medications used in a medication abortion and to treat early pregnancy loss, has been subject to medically-unnecessary FDA restrictions (known as REMS) since it was approved in 2000. The FDA’s letter means that patients can now receive mifepristone by mail throughout the pandemic so they do not have to risk unnecessary COVID-19 virus exposure as a condition for accessing care.
Back in May 2020, the ACLU and plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the FDA, challenging the REMS restrictions on mifepristone during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were ultimately successful, and restrictions were lifted, allowing patients to receive their medication by mail. However, in January 2021, the Supreme Court granted the Trump Administration’s request to reinstate the REMS, despite the ongoing pandemic.
While the FDA’s decision this time around will immediately provide easier access to abortion care and medication management of miscarriage, we still have a ways to go to remove all medically-unnecessary restrictions on mifepristone. Nineteen states still prohibit using telehealth for medication abortion, preventing folks in those states from benefitting from the FDA’s decision. The harm of these in-person regulations has fallen hardest on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, people who live in rural areas, and those working to make ends meet. These are also the communities that have been most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and harmful abortion restrictions more broadly.
We applaud the tireless, persistent efforts of reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations, advocates, and researchers that have organized, litigated, and provided critical data to enable the FDA to make this decision based in evidence and science. The Reproductive Health Access Project has long advocated for expanding access to mifepristone. Suspending these politically-motivated, unnecessary regulations on mifepristone is an important step to ensure abortion and EPL care is accessible to everyone who needs it. We urge the Biden-Harris Administration to continue dismantling policies that restrict abortion access, including permanently lifting mifepristone from REMS regulation even after the public health emergency, repealing the Hyde Amendment, and other asks of the Blueprint for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice.
The Reproductive Health Access Project condemns the recent murder of Daunte Wright, a Black man in Minnesota who was shot and killed by police on Sunday, April 11, 2021. Daunte Wright leaves behind his parents, Katie and Aubrey Wright, and his son, Daunte Jr. State sanctioned police violence has once again taken another Black parent and another Black child. This is reproductive injustice. We honor and share in the pain, grief, and anger of our Black colleagues and community members.
This week is also Black Maternal Health Week, a yearly event led by Black Mamas Matter, that amplifies the voices of Black mamas and uplift the values and traditions of the reproductive and birth justice movements. Reproductive Justice, a term and movement framework created by Black women, is defined as, “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities” (SisterSong). Reproductive justice cannot be achieved under a system of state-sanctioned violence that disproportionately harms Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) families and communities. It is our responsibility, as a white-led reproductive health organization, to reflect, educate ourselves, and ensure that we are following the leadership of Reproductive Justice activists in working towards a future where everyone is able to live freely and without fear of violence.
Take action now.
- Take action for Daunte Wright and his family here
- Learn more and participate in Black Mamas Matter Black Maternal Health Week
- Re-read RHAP’s statement on Black Lives Matter.
This spring, in anticipation of the retirement of our longtime Medical Director, we launched our Clinical Committee, a collaborative team of primary care clinicians who serve as our clinical guides, ensuring that our clinical tools, resources, and training programs reflect the most up-to-date clinical evidence, the highest quality of care, address emerging issues and technologies, and are in alignment with our organizational mission and values.
In creating our Clinical Committee, we aimed to include primary care clinicians who reflect the diversity of our broad national clinical community and who had complementary expertise in areas we knew we wanted to expand. We were so inspired by how many wonderful clinicians expressed interest in being a part of this committee.
We are proud to introduce to our Clinical Committee, Samantha Hyacinth, Ruth Lesnewski, and Angeline Ti. Read their bios below and join us on the evening of April 22nd at 8:30 pm ET to meet them in person, online.
Samantha Hyacinth, MSN, WHNP-BC is a Queer, Black, board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner originally from the Bronx. She graduated from the Yale School of Nursing in 2014. Her passion for providing accessible reproductive health care brought her to Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. There she was able to deepen her love for providing patient-centered, trauma-informed care to individuals with limited income, adolescents, and the LGBTQ community. Most recently, she worked with federally qualified health centers in Massachusetts, helping them expand their contraceptive offerings to patients before pivoting her attention back to direct patient care. She is currently a practicing clinician at FOLX health, a telemedicine platform designed for and by queer and trans individuals.
Ruth Lesnewski, MD is one of RHAP’s co-founders and has played a critical role in developing RHAP’s extensive library of clinical tools and resources. She graduated from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine in 1987 and completed her residency in family medicine at Montefiore Medical Center in 1990. She is a Board Certified Family Physician. Currently, Ruth works as an attending physician at Beth Israel Residency Program in Urban Family Practice. In 2010, she became the clinical director of MyChart MyHealth, the patient portal for the Institute for Family Health.
Angeline Ti, MD, MPH is a family physician and family planning specialist in Atlanta, GA. She received her Masters of Public Health from John Hopkins in 2008, graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 2012, and completed residency in Family and Community Medicine and a fellowship in Family Planning at the University of California, San Francisco in 2017. She then completed a 2-year research position at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where she conducted research to support the CDC Contraceptive Guidance. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Emory University in the Division of Family Planning, where she is the Medical Director of the Title X program at Grady Memorial Hospital.
Let’s say you needed contraception, abortion care, or early pregnancy loss care… Shouldn’t your regular health care provider be able to provide reproductive health care as easily as a physical? Nearly every county in every state has a primary care clinician who could provide this care. Then why is reproductive health care training, in particular abortion training, not a routine part of medical residencies? There is a shortage of access to reproductive health services nationally. Family physicians are well-positioned to provide these services in just about every community across the country. Yet, presently family medicine residency programs do not provide adequate reproductive health training, making it paramount to have specialized fellowship training programs. Our Reproductive Health Care and Advocacy Fellowship helps fill in this gap to promote and teach full-spectrum reproductive health care within family medicine. Since 2007, the Reproductive Health Access Project’s year-long fellowship has been training clinical leaders who promote, provide, and teach abortion, contraception, and miscarriage care in our nation’s most underserved areas. address the need of training clinicians to provide high-quality, client-centered reproductive health care by addressing three critical areas, abortion, contraception, and miscarriage care. Our fellowship program has trained 33 family physicians and we have been able to increase the number of fellows we train to six fellows a year at sites in Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Washington State. With every new fellow trained, we make a direct impact on access to reproductive health care, training not only the fellows in our program, but the clinicians they will go on to teach with the skills they learn here. With your help, we can train clinicians to train more clinicians to expand access to reproductive health care and create change throughout the country. We need 100 people to give $25 a month (or $300 a year) to meet our $30,000 goal! Donate today!
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