Del. Bill Addresses Access To Abortion Medications

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Physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses would be permitted to prescribe approved medications for termination of a pregnancy in Delaware, under a bill that has passed the State Senate.
The sponsors said this legislation addresses a provision in the state code that allows only qualified physicians to prescribe and administer abortion medications. Requirements surrounding these drugs, saidthe sponsors, pose “logistical challenges to people in medically underserved and rural communities, where reproductive health clinics are difficult to find or access.”

“Supporting women means ensuring access to the medical services they need. House Bill 320 will make it easier for the women in our state to overcome the unnecessary restrictions that surround medically-induced abortions,” State Senator Kyle Evans Gay, D-Talleyville said.

Additionally, according to the Delaware State Senate Democratic Caucus:

House Bill 320, sponsored by Rep. Debra Heffernan, Sen. Kyle Evans Gay and Senate Majority Leader Bryan Townsend, would allow physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to prescribe medication for the termination of pregnancy, including Mifeprex, Mifepristone, and Misoprostol. Medical abortions are the most common abortion regimen in the United States and are extremely safe, with less than .31% of patients reporting major complications.

Physician assistants and advanced practice nurses have the training and authority to prescribe nearly all medications, including controlled substances. However, despite their ability to provide safe, low-risk access to medication abortions, current state code allows only qualified physicians to prescribe and administer abortion medication.

Mifepristone, Misoprostol, and Mifeprex are subject to extremely stringent restrictions under the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) issued by the FDA. REMS stipulates that the medication can only be administered in certain settings and must be taken under the supervision of a qualified prescriber. It also requires a provider to become a certified prescriber by completing and sending a Prescriber Agreement, and requires providers to obtain a signed Patient Agreement Form from the patient before dispensing the drugs. These requirements pose serious logistical challenges to individuals in medically underserved and rural communities, where reproductive health clinics are often difficult to find or inaccessible.

The bill now goes to Governor John Carney for consideration.

“As we face the looming threat of the Supreme Court weakening or even overturning Roe, making it easier for individuals to obtain abortion services is more critical than ever,” Planned Parenthood of Delaware President and CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby said. We are grateful that while many states are cutting off their residents from what has been a constitutional right for nearly half a century, Delaware is fighting for body autonomy thanks to bold leadership from legislators, advocates, and others. Medication abortions are highly safe and very common, and the procedure falls into the scope of practice for physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. In fact, 18 other states allow them to prescribe medication for abortions.”

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