UMass must provide medical abortions by mail – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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An Expansion of New UHS Abortion Services

Justin Surgent / Daily College Student

On June 24, the Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organizationreversing 49 years of precedent set by Roe vs. Wade. Abortion is no longer constitutionally protected nationwide, leaving it to state legislatures to protect or restrict access to the procedure.

Although the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is unlikely to feel the immediate impact of this decision, there are students, faculty, and staff who will bear the brunt of the inaccessibility of safe abortions. University Health Services can and should provide a safety net for the most vulnerable by offering medical abortions by mail to out-of-state students.

UMass has already created a system that will make abortions accessible on campus. In January, the University announced that UHS would provide abortion drugs on campus beginning this fall. Medical abortions have proven to be a safe method with an efficiency rate of over 95%.

Among the Class of 2025, more than 40 students reside in states with near-immediate abortion bans, though many also reside in states with restrictive laws or the possibility of restriction. Many other undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty, will be affected. This is a disastrous situation that the University cannot ignore.

According to the CDC, 43% of all abortions in 2019 were performed with medication. Medical abortions use two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, to terminate pregnancies before 10 weeks. Both drugs can be safely mailed and taken home. UHS already has a courier service that would allow it to distribute the pills.

The Food and Drug Administration previously had restrictions known as Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) on the distribution of mifepristone, which required patients to take the drug by mouth in the presence of a clinician for fear of drug safety. However, that policy changed last December when the FDA scrapped REMS after concluding the drug was safe. USA Today reported that a study showed it has lower recorded death rates than common prescription drugs like Viagra.

With the removal of REMS, medical abortions only require a telehealth appointment for consultation before the pills are mailed to the patient. As a result of the pandemic, UHS has an extensive and confidential telehealth system.

It should be noted that UHS uses software provided by Medicat, an Atlanta-based company, which could provide abortion information to Georgia state prosecutors. Besides the potential for medical information to be used against patients, the legality of health clinicians providing services across state lines remains another hurdle that UMass will face if they provide medical abortions by mail. . States that ban or restrict abortion such as Texas and Mississippi already ban mailing the pills and telehealth abortions.

Fortunately, medical licenses are granted state by state, and Governor Charlie Baker signed an executive order to protect healthcare workers from out-of-state persecution and loss of their professional licenses if they help abortion. This means that clinicians can perform their duties under the protection of Massachusetts law, as long as they remain in the state.

UMass and UHS also have a history of defying the law to ensure students have their basic right to reproductive health. In the 1970s, UHS provided birth control to single college students and referred them to abortion providers, which was against state law.

Abortions provide people, especially the most vulnerable, with life-changing opportunities: access to education, employment opportunities and life-saving care. Mailing abortion pills and telehealth appointments is by no means a permanent solution to this crisis. Nevertheless, it is something we control in an age when the right to choose has been gutted. UMass sees itself as a groundbreaking university that challenges the status quo. It would be a revolutionary act against tyranny and one of the worst setbacks to American civil rights.

Dylan Nguyen can be reached at [email protected]

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