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Attorney General Josh Stein Fights to Keep Patients Safe During COVID-19

For Immediate Release:
Friday, February 12, 2021

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today filed an amicus brief supporting a preliminary injunction that protects women’s health by not forcing them to visit a health care provider in person for essential reproductive health care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — a plaintiff in this case —has championed telehealth as an effective substitute for in-clinic dispensing of mifepristone that can improve patient safety and outcomes during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

“Even as we continue distributing vaccines, this pandemic is still spreading across North Carolina,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We should be taking every reasonable step possible to make sure people are safe. It’s irresponsible and unnecessary to force North Carolinians to visit a doctor when they could receive the same level of care through a telehealth visit. I’ll continue fighting to make sure people can get the care they need while protecting their health.”

Last summer, a lower court issued a preliminary injunction in American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists et al. v. FDA et al., halting a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirement that forced patients to appear in person in a clinical setting to receive the contraceptive drug mifepristone. Today, this coalition of attorneys general is urging the appeals court to uphold that ruling and further expand the injunction to also cover people who need mifepristone for treatment after experiencing a miscarriage.

Since early 2020, more than 27 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and more than 476,000 people have died. As of Feb. 11, 810,466 North Carolinians have contracted the virus and more than 10,294 have died. Forcing people to see a health care provider in person for care and prescriptions that could be handled virtually only increases their risk of exposure to COVID-19, especially as new and more dangerous variants continue to spread. The FDA requirement is also particularly harmful for people who live in rural areas of North Carolina or places with less access to health care services, because they will have to travel further to get the care they need.

In March 2020, Attorney General Stein and 20 other attorneys general called on the Trump administration to waive this requirement so people could access reproductive care. In September, he and 22 other attorneys general asked the court to leave the preliminary injunction in place despite a Trump administration request to reinstate the requirement.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing this brief by the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the brief is available here.

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