Months after launching an investigation into Aid Access, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration demanded the Dutch abortion group stop mailing abortion-inducing drugs to women in the United States. In a letter earlier this month, the FDA said Aid Access offers “misbranded and unapproved new drugs” on its website.
“FDA requests that you immediately cease causing the introduction of these violative drugs into U.S. commerce,” the letter stated. “Failure to correct these violations may result in FDA regulatory action, including seizure or injunction, without further notice.”
Pro-life advocates cheered the move, which came as a surprise to some.
Patrina Mosley, director of life, culture, and women’s advocacy for the Family Research Council, told me she was a little shocked to see the FDA protecting babies from abortion by mail since it has allowed tele-abortions, in which abortionists prescribe drugs after a remote consultation with the mother.
“Virtually the same risks apply,” she said. “There’s not a physician there. There’s not a proper determination of how far along she is in her pregnancy, [or] even if she is pregnant. It is surprising to see the FDA crack down on online abortion pill selling when some of the same risks occur with doing telemed abortions.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, applauded the FDA action and cited the dangers of abortion pills: “The fact that abortion vendors want to push pills without an exam to protect women, keeping profits high and costs low, is no reason to allow that abuse.”
Aid Access has been sending the abortion drugs to women it chats with online for $95 per dispensing. That process circumnavigates safeguards such as regulations requiring abortion providers to assess a woman’s pregnancy, detect ectopic pregnancies, and provide medical help for women experiencing complications such as an incomplete abortion or heavy bleeding.
The Dutch group dispenses an unapproved version of the two-drug cocktail from a manufacturer in India. But the FDA-approved version of the drug Mifeprex, which blocks pregnancy hormones and leads to the baby’s death, carries a warning label telling women of the possibly life-threatening side effects. It also has to undergo a certain process for storing and shipping.
“Sourcing drugs from outside of the legitimate U.S. drug supply chain can pose serious risks to patients who may receive medications that are adulterated and are not shipped and/or stored properly,” the FDA warned Aid Access.
Whether the FDA will follow through with its threats remains to be seen. Mosley said she doesn’t expect Aid Access founder Rebecca Gomperts to comply.
Women on Waves, which Gomperts founded in 1999, performed abortions in international waters near countries with pro-life policies and later became Women on Web, mailing abortion drugs to women in countries that protect unborn life. Gomperts told The Atlantic last year that she delayed operations in the United States because of the pro-life movement.
“[Gomperts] has a reputation right now of skirting the law,” Mosley said. “She’s already done this twice, Women on the Web, now Aid Access. I doubt this will be the last time we hear from her and her efforts.”