Abortion on Screen

In January 2021, the Supreme Court ruled to reinstate an FDA policy that required people to go to a clinic in person to obtain medication abortion care. Many reproductive rights groups are now urging the Biden administration to lift the FDA’s in-person requirement for the duration of the Covid-19 public health emergency.

Research shows that medication abortion care can be provided via telemedicine just as safely and effectively as in-person care. Experts issued the following statements in response to the Supreme Court decision. Kirsten Moore, director of Expanding Medication Abortion Access Project: “This is a shameful and unnecessary move by the Supreme Court to deny women options for abortion care during a pandemic—and sadly the harm will fall hardest on those who have a hard time reaching care: low-income women, rural women, and those who live far from a clinic.

Medication abortion care can safely be provided through telemedicine and the FDA should be allowing that during this public health crisis. Twenty years of science and experience tell us that it shouldn’t be this hard to get medication abortion care.”

Dr. Daniel Grossman, director, Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health: “This Supreme Court ruling puts people’s health and lives at risk. There is no reason during a pandemic to require patients seeking medication abortion care to be seen in person when telemedicine is equally safe and effective.”

With a new administration, the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and newly appointed conservative Supreme Court justices, legal abortion is the floor, not the ceiling for reproductive health and justice advocates. The pandemic has laid bare the flaws in the health care system and exposed the unnecessary and onerous requirements around abortion care, including medication abortion.

Our virtual panel will be held on Thursday, Jan. 28 beginning at 4 p.m. (PST), with guest speakers that include:

MERRITT TIERCE (moderator)—Tierce is a novelist and screenwriter who has written for Orange Is the New Black and the forthcoming Netflix show Social Distance. She is a former executive director of the Texas Equal Access Fund, a nonprofit abortion fund based in Dallas.

BECKY HARTMAN EDWARDS—Hartman Edwards broke in on the hit sketch-comedy show In Living Color, and has written for both comedy and drama series that include The Larry Sanders Show, Sex and the City, Parenthood, Switched at Birth and The Bold Type. She’s currently developing a single-camera half-hour show for ABC. Hartman Edwards has been nominated for three Emmy awards, a Writers Guild Award, and has won a Television Critics Award and a Peabody for her work on Switched at Birth. An episode she wrote for The Bold Type recently won a Sentinel Award, presented by Hollywood, Health & Society of the USC Annneberg Norman Lear Center. Hartman Edwards is a WGA mentor to emerging writers and one of the founders of the public engagement group “Civic Sundays.”

COLLEEN McNICHOLAS, D.O., F.A.C.O.G. —Dr. McNicholas is a practicing OB/GYN, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and a former attending physician, associate professor and director of the Ryan Residency Collaborative at Washington University School of Medicine.

GRETCHEN SISSON—Sisson is a qualitative sociologist with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science at the University of California, San Francisco. Her work focuses on social constructions and representations of reproductive decision-making and parenthood, specifically abortion, adoption and birth motherhood, and teen pregnancy and young parenthood. Her research on television’s depictions of abortion has been widely published and covered on NPR, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Glamour and Teen Vogue. Sisson received her B.A. from Amherst College and her Ph.D. in sociology from Boston College.