“As a pharmacy, we believe everyone has the right to choose whether or not an abortion is right for them,” said Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi, co-founder, co-CEO and lead pharmacist of Honeybee Health.
For years, pharmacies outside the U.S. have been shipping abortion pills to American women wanting to end their pregnancies. But now, for the first time, a U.S.-based pharmacy—Honeybee Health—is distributing abortion pills directly to patients within the country by mail, now legal because of a recent federal court ruling.
“This is a momentous achievement for Americans, particularly for women of color and others who historically faced barriers to reproductive healthcare that are made even worse by COVID-19,” said Dr. Jessica Nouhavandi, co-founder, co-CEO and lead pharmacist of Honeybee Health.
Honeybee is a California-based, accredited, online pharmacy that sells generic medications at steep discounts, without the need for insurance.
“As a pharmacy, we believe everyone has the right to choose whether or not an abortion is right for them. We’re deeply honored to be part of the pioneering group of medical professionals who are bringing increased access to safe abortion pills across the country.”
The pandemic has led to a rapid, revolutionary change in treatment protocols for medication abortion. A new no-test protocol has made ultrasounds and blood tests unnecessary for many women seeking medication abortion. This protocol allows doctors to provide the service via telemedicine so that patients do not have to make an in-person visit to a health care clinic and risk exposure to COVID-19.
But a long-standing, politically motivated FDA restriction on the abortion pill mifepristone has meant that patients still had to go to their doctor’s office to pick up the medication in person. Despite the fact that the abortion pill is an extremely safe way to end a pregnancy, the FDA prohibited pharmacies from distributing mifepristone to patients, instead requiring physicians to register with the drug maker, and then stock and distribute the pills to their patients directly.
So medical providers and reproductive justice activists challenged the restriction in court and won.
In July, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that the FDA requirement of in-person visits to obtain the abortion pill during the COVID-19 pandemic imposes a “substantial obstacle” to abortion health care that is likely unconstitutional. He ruled that patients may receive the abortion pill mifepristone through the mail.