Acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock has indicated in a letter the agency will be lifting restrictions on the health and safety standards applied to abortion-inducing drugs, allowing for the dispensation of the drugs via telemedicine and through the mail.
Addressing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Woodcock said a “literature search for studies pertinent to the in-person dispensing requirement” regarding the abortion drug mifepristone “found that the small number of adverse events reported to FDA during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) provide no indication that any program deviation or noncompliance” with the mifepristone Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) Program “contributed to the reported adverse events.”
BREAKING: ACOG win! The @US_FDA Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock has notified @ACOG and @MySMFM that the agency will "exercise enforcement discretion" regarding #mifepristone through the duration of the #COVID19 public health emergency. 1/ pic.twitter.com/PDpJ7000bc
— ACOG Action (@ACOGAction) April 13, 2021
Woodcock concluded that, provided the other risk and mitigation strategies for mifepristone are met, in order to avoid the COVID-related risks of having pregnant girls and women present in a doctor’s office just to have an abortion, FDA will “exercise enforcement discretion during the pandemic “with respect to the dispensing of mifepristone through the mail either by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber, or through a mail-order pharmacy.”
Planned Parenthood, which profits from abortions, tweeted in response to the FDA’s lifting of restrictions that mifepristone “is safe, effective, and has been used by 4+ million people since the FDA approved it more than 20 years ago.”
“Removing medically unnecessary barriers to it is a big win for abortion access & keeps patients, providers, and health center staff safer during the pandemic,” the abortion provider added.
Mifepristone is safe, effective, and has been used by 4+ million people since the FDA approved it more than 20 years ago. Removing medically unnecessary barriers to it is a big win for abortion access & keeps patients, providers, and health center staff safer during the pandemic. https://t.co/ygDB6rxRpw
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) April 13, 2021
Pro-life advocates, however, criticized the decision.
“The Biden Administration makes catastrophic loss of life by mail its legacy in choosing to weaken the minimal health and safety in place to protect women from the deadly consequences of Chemical Abortion Pills,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.
“Sending deadly pills through the mail without any pre-screening or follow-up care is convenient and cost effective for Corporate Abortion, but women will pay the price along with countless preborn infants,” she added.
Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said President Joe Biden’s FDA is clearly prioritizing abortion access over the safety of women and girls:
Allowing unsupervised chemical abortions via telemedicine, without requiring timely access to medical care, will put women in grave danger. Data released in 2018 by the FDA shows thousands of adverse events caused by abortion pills, including 768 hospitalizations and 24 deaths since 2000. Chemical abortions should have more medical oversight not less.
In January, the Supreme Court granted a Trump administration request to restore a rule requiring women to have an in-person visit with a medical professional prior to receiving abortion-inducing drugs.
In a 6-3 vote, the Court halted a lower court’s decision to allow the mailing of abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol to women who wish to end their pregnancies at home as long as the pandemic continues.
Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, an Obama appointee, had granted a preliminary injunction in July after pro-abortion groups filed a lawsuit.
The Trump administration appealed the ruling, arguing women should see a doctor in person prior to taking the drugs because of safety concerns.
In late April, Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson referred to telemedicine abortion as the “silver lining” of the coronavirus pandemic.
Johnson told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman the fact that many states have attempted to include elective abortions among other procedures that should be temporarily banned to preserve scarce medical equipment for healthcare workers treating coronavirus patients is “unconscionable.”
The CEO of the nation’s largest abortion provider boasted the launch of Planned Parenthood’s new tele-abortion service in which women seeking an abortion have a virtual meeting with an abortion provider and obtain a prescription for abortion-inducing drugs they take at home.
“It is actually a silver lining in this pandemic, that Planned Parenthood and many other health providers have actually been able to really lean into telehealth infrastructure and provide service,” she said.
Planned Parenthood has been touting an increase in at-home abortions since its tele-abortion services began nationwide, though many pro-life advocates have concerns about the practice.
As referred to by Woodstock in her letter, mifepristone, one of the drugs used in a medication abortion, is not fully approved under the FDA’s risk and mitigation program, though women have been obtaining it illegally from overseas vendors.
“This is a medication that definitely has dangers associated with it,” Dr. Christina Francis, an Indiana-based OB/GYN and chairman of the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly last year.
Francis said some immediate complications of mifepristone could be:
… hemorrhage, the immediate possibility of infection, and the possibility of failure, where the pregnancy doesn’t fully pass from the medication and then leading to sometimes the requirement for emergent surgery for that woman because of either ongoing bleeding or the risk of infection.
Francis added that because of the uncertainties associated with the pandemic, many women “are being influenced by fear right now, and this is being perpetuated by the abortion industry.”
Dr. Meera Shah, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, touted to the Associated Press (AP) in April 2020 that her organization’s new telemedicine abortion service is so much in demand that one mother began her drug-induced abortion “at home with her children running around behind her.”
Former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levatino explained in his videos about various abortion procedures that mifepristone blocks the action of progesterone, which the mother’s body produces to nourish the pregnancy. When progesterone is blocked, the lining of the mother’s uterus deteriorates, and blood and nourishment are cut off to the developing baby, who then dies inside the mother’s womb.
The drug misoprostol (also called Cytotec) then causes contractions and bleeding to expel the baby from the mother’s uterus.
This series of events occur at home when the drugs are sent via mail.
The Associated Press reported Sunday, about 40 percent of all abortions in the country are drug-induced.
Abortion rights advocates, the report said, are applauding the fact that the pandemic “has demonstrated the value of medical care provided virtually, including the privacy and convenience of abortions taking place in a woman’s home, instead of a clinic.”
More states, however, have pushed legislation to restrict telemedicine abortions. These efforts have often been blocked by judges siding with Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana is expected to sign a ban on telemedicine abortions.
Rep. Sharon Greef (R-MT) referred to drug-induced abortions as “the Wild West of the abortion industry,” asserting the drugs should be taken under close supervision of medical professionals, “not as part of a do-it-yourself abortion far from a clinic or hospital.”