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Attorney General Josh Stein Fights to Maintain Patient Safety During Covid-19

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein filed an amicus brief supporting the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and others in their legal action against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for requiring women who are seeking contraceptive care to visit a health care provider in person during this pandemic, thereby increasing their risk of contracting Covid-19.

“North Carolina has made hard-fought progress against the pandemic and we’re now seeing encouraging trends that will allow us to continue reopening safely,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “But we should not be putting patients and health care workers at unnecessary risk of contracting Covid-19 by requiring in-person care that could just as well be provided through telehealth. The FDA’s requirement is irresponsible and misguided during this public health crisis, which is why the District Court blocked it. I am fighting to make sure it is not reinstated.”

In July, a district court issued a preliminary injunction that halted an FDA requirement that women appear in person in a clinical setting to receive the contraceptive drug mifepristone. The Trump administration is now asking the court to reinstate the FDA requirement. In their brief, Attorney General Stein and a coalition of 23 attorneys general ask the court to reject the Trump administration’s request and argue that the drug should be readily accessible via telehealth and mail delivery, so as to not potentially expose women to Covid-19 by requiring unnecessary travel.

As of Sept. 8, 178,635 North Carolinians have contracted Covid-19, and 2,909 North Carolinians have died. Reinstating and enforcing the FDA requirements during the current public health crisis will harm patient safety and the public interest by conditioning access to essential reproductive health care on an increased risk of virus infection and transmission – a risk that is even higher for women who live in rural areas of North Carolina and may need to travel farther for health care.

Furthermore, the requirement undermines North Carolina’s ongoing efforts to manage the crisis through measures limiting unnecessary in-person contact, such as stay-at-home orders, stay-safe orders, and telehealth. These measures remain necessary to continue to control the spread of the virus and to safely reopen communities, allow for essential in-person activities, and maintain health care capacity during the upcoming flu season The coalition argues that telehealth should be used wherever possible — even as phased re-openings occur, including in North Carolina — because it maximizes the number of health care workers providing necessary medical treatment, while protecting health care staff and patients.

Attorney General Stein is joined in filing today’s amicus 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.

More on Attorney General Stein’s work to protect health care for North Carolinians:

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