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A long list of anti-abortion organizations sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, requesting that it seize the website domains for two organizations accused of skirting federal regulations on administering medicinal abortions.
“We are writing to urge you to seize the website domains for AidAccess, Rablon, and any other entities illegally prescribing and/or selling mifepristone in the United States, and to further investigate their practices,” reads the letter, signed by more than 50 groups and leaders.
The letter focuses on AidAccess.org and Rablon, which both received FDA warning letters in March of last year.
“It has been over a year since FDA sent warning letters to AidAccess and Rablon stating that the websites are in violation of U.S. law,” the signatories said.
It continued: “Yet, these websites remain active and continue to dispense abortion-inducing drugs, including mifepristone, through internet prescriptions or orders that are purportedly filled by pharmacies in India, and then shipped to customers in the United States. Their actions brazenly flout FDA-required protections for women using abortion-inducing drugs.”
Abortion opponents are pushing for the FDA to tighten its enforcement at a time when demand for abortions has increased during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has prompted some states to ban elective procedures, including surgical abortions, in order to preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) — leaving many women with medicinal forms as their only option for accessing abortion.
Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL have attacked restrictions on medication abortions as unnecessary. “Medication abortion is very safe,” Planned Parenthood says on its website. “Serious problems are rare, but like all medical procedures, there can be some risks.”
NARAL previously that it was “absolutely absurd” that the FDA wouldn’t reconsider restrictions on medicinal abortions obtained through telemedicine: “During a pandemic, the government should be doing everything it can to make care more accessible, not less.”
In a statement to Vice, the FDA said its regulations were necessary to ensure that the “benefits” of the medication outweighed its “risks.”
“Certain restrictions, known as a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS), are necessary for mifepristone when used for medical termination of early pregnancy in order to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks,” the agency told the outlet.
Aid Access founder, Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, previously said she wouldn’t be “deterred” by the FDA, which she said was violating her patients’ constitutional rights.
“When U.S. women seeking to terminate their pregnancies prior to nine weeks consult me, I will not turn them away. I will continue to protect the human and constitutional right of my patients to access safe abortion services,” she said.
“The FDA is violating the rights of all U.S. women seeking safe abortion by preventing them from accessing necessary medications.”
A letter from Gomperts’ attorney similarly argues that the FDA’s warning letter places a “substantial burden in the path of U.S. women seeking to terminate their pregnancies prior to viability.”
Susan B. Anthony List is spearheading the effort with support from others like the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG).
Dr. Christina Francis, chairman of AAPLOG’s board of directors, told Fox News that while her organization supports health care access during the pandemic, abortion isn’t health care.”It doesn’t treat a disease process and it doesn’t have any benefits for women,” she said.
Francis added that FDA regulations are in place to “protect women” and that lifting them could create even more suffering. Medicinal abortions, she said, already pose a threat to women’s health but that threat is enhanced if they’re administered without proper screening for gestational age or ectopic pregnancies.
Contrary to Planned Parenthood, Francis argues that medication abortions are “very dangerous” for women. They have a higher complication rate than surgical procedures and more specifically, they can cause heavy bleeding, “significant pain,” and potentially increased risk of infection, Francis said.
She maintains that U.S.-based studies on the issue are generally tied to entites with financial interests in the procedure. Her organization points to a Finnish study, which examined more than 42,000 women, found complications in 1 in 5 women who utilized medicinal abortions. Almost 6 percent required surgery and “the rate of complications was four times higher in medical than in surgical abortions.”
The group adds: “Finally, a meta-analysis of all available Mifepristone/Misoprostol studies worldwide including over 47,000 women found a 4.8% treatment failure rate, and 1.1% ongoing pregnancies.”