Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

ACLU sues to allow abortion pills in pharmacies

Abortion | Pro-life groups say such a move would endanger women’s health
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 10/09/17, 03:49 pm

Women should be able to get abortion-inducing drugs at their local pharmacies in addition to abortion facilities, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues in a new lawsuit.

The group sued on behalf of a Hawaii abortionist and three medical entities against federal regulations of the drug RU-486, also known as mifepristone and the brand name Mifeprex.

The drug works with the drug misoprostol to cut off nutrients to babies during early pregnancy and send the mother into labor.

Under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations of Mifeprex, abortionists must order, carry, and dispense the drug themselves or send women to a clinic, medical office, or hospital that carries it. The FDA relaxed the regulations on Mifeprex in 2016 by allowing abortionists to administer it later in pregnancy than before and removing the requirement that the companion drug, misoprostol, be administered at an abortion facility.

Some abortionists have difficulty stocking the abortion drugs, the ACLU said, and the FDA should loosen the restrictions on mifepristone even further. “Once a woman has been prescribed Mifeprex, there is no medical benefit to requiring that the pill be handed to her at a medical office, clinic, or hospital rather than handed to her at her local pharmacy or via a mail-order pharmacy,” the suit states.

But pro-life advocates disagree: The drug is risky enough for women without further easing of restrictions.

“The marketing spin is to repeat the mantra of ‘safe’ over and over again when the reality is, these are dangerous drugs,” Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told me. “Women have died from them. Women have hemorrhaged from them. Women have had to have emergency surgery. These are not safe.”

ACLU of Hawaii director Mateo Caballero called the drug a “safe, proven method to end a pregnancy,“ and said the FDA’s requirements were “politically motivated.”

But Harrison cited a 2009 Finnish study that compared 42,619 surgical and chemical abortions over six years. Researchers found that women who had chemical abortions had a 20 percent chance of “adverse events” that included hemorrhage and incomplete abortion, while women who had surgical abortion faced a 5.6 percent chance of complications.

National Right to Life’s Randall O’Bannon pointed out that the FDA initially took measures to inform women of the risks of complications from abortion drugs and only relaxed its standards after “bowing to the abortion lobby.”

“The ACLU and the abortion lobby don’t like the FDA reminding women of those risks, and they want the drugs available from every pharmacy in the country,” O’Bannon told me. “Anything that allows prescribers or patients to be less informed of the risks or less attuned to the warning signs—which is what the changes the ACLU and the abortion industry seeks would do—is grossly irresponsible and dangerous.”

The lawsuit, if successful, would also affect pharmacists with conscientious objections to dispensing mifepristone. In 2015, Christian business owners in Washington who protested stocking their pharmacy with emergency contraceptives Plan B and Ella lost a federal appeal in Stormans Inc. v. Weisman. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.

Associated Press/Photo by Margery Beck Associated Press/Photo by Margery Beck A protest in February in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Iowa gets to keep waiting period for abortions

A judge upheld an Iowa law caught in the crosshairs of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, retaining the state’s mandatory 72-hour waiting period for abortions.

The two pro-abortion entities filed suit in May to block the law, which requires abortionists to perform an ultrasound to determine gestational age of the baby, offer images from the ultrasound to the mother, and offer to let her hear the baby’s heartbeat at least three days before performing the abortion.

Judge Jeffrey Farrell wrote that the law did not place an undue burden on women seeking abortion. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU said they would appeal to the Iowa Supreme Court. —S.G.

Associated Press/Photo by James A. Finley Associated Press/Photo by James A. Finley Flags fly outside a Planned Parenthood location in St. Louis.

Planned Parenthood drops appeal to Supreme Court

Planned Parenthood pulled its request for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in its case against Missouri for two new abortion laws after judges removed a stay against a lower court ruling blocking the laws. The laws require abortionists to have hospital admitting privileges and abortion centers to meet surgical center standards. A federal district judge ordered the state not to enforce the laws because they resemble similar measures in Texas that the U.S. Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals initially sided with Missouri, issuing a temporary order in favor of enforcing the laws while the state appealed the lower court ruling, but last week the 8th Circuit refused to issue a longer-term “stay of injunction pending appeal,” ruling in Planned Parenthood’s favor. —S.G.

Pro-euthanasia monks summoned to Rome

Vatican officials have called the Brothers of Charity’s board of directors to Rome over the Belgium order’s stance on euthanasia. The order’s superior general, René Stockman, called the meeting the order’s “last chance” to align with church teaching after the group refused to strike down its new rule allowing euthanasia for mentally ill patients at its 15 psychiatric hospitals in Belgium. Last month, the group issued a statement contending that its position on euthanasia “came from the Christian mindset.” The Vatican has been investigating the order for months for its March decision to allow euthanasia in its hospitals. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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  • VolunteerBB
    Posted: Thu, 10/12/2017 04:33 pm

    Why isn't the pill available over the counter?  One has to go see a doctor first, then get a prescription from the doctor, which at the most is for one year.  It seems that doctors and the government are saying that a woman needs to see a doctor first, be examined, get a paps smear, etc., before she can get the pill, yet something that destroys a baby in early development should be available over the counter without seeing a doctor first.  I know for a fact that a pregnancy test is not necessary before getting RU486 prescribed.  People call it the "morning after" pill, but many wait much longer than that, and since no proof is needed that someone wasn't actually pregnant, this pill can and does destroy a living begins at conception.  If this abortion pill is allowed over the counter, then so should the contraceptive pill.