Pro-life groups criticized the Biden administration for allowing the distribution of the abortion pill through the mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With this action, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will prioritize abortion over women's safety,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini. “Allowing unsupervised chemical abortions via telemedicine, without requiring timely access to medical care, will put women in grave danger.”
In a Monday letter from the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the FDA announced it would “exercise enforcement discretion” on its regulations of the abortion pill. Acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock said she would allow for the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed remotely and sent to women through the mail or through a mail-order pharmacy.
“Further, to the extent all of the other requirements of the Mifepristone REMS Program are met, CDER intends to exercise enforcement discretion during the COVID19 PHE 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 when such dispensing is done under the supervision of a certified prescriber,” Woodcock wrote.
Since 2000, the FDA had placed the abortion pill regimen on its REMS list, or “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy.” The list is reserved for higher-risk drugs and procedures, and under the regimen, the abortion pill could only be prescribed in-person by a certified prescriber in a health clinic setting.
Pro-abortion groups sued the Trump administration over the regulation in 2020, however, claiming that the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic warranted that women be able to obtain the abortion pill remotely.
In July, Judge Theodore Chuang of the Maryland district placed an injunction on the FDA regulations during the pandemic. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in the Trump administration’s favor by reversing Chuang’s injunction in a 6-3 decision.
The FDA’s April 12 letter means that women will be able to receive the abortion pill through the mail during the pandemic.
Mancini said that the FDA’s data from 2018 showed “thousands of adverse events” as a result of the abortion pill, “including 768 hospitalizations and 24 deaths since 2000.”
“Chemical abortions should have more medical oversight not less,” said Mancini.
Xavier Becerra, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), pushed for the FDA to roll back its regulations of the abortion pill during the pandemic. At his confirmation hearing in February, Becerra said that the regimen should be available remotely.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said the FDA’s decision was “pure politics” and accused pro-abortion activists of “exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning, working to eliminate safety precautions in order to expand the proliferation of dangerous chemical abortion drugs.”
Dannenfelser added that the decision to allow telemedicine abortions “prioritizes abortion industry profits over the health and safety of women” and is evidence of the “abortion extremism of the Biden-Harris administration.”
“This is flagrant and dangerous disregard for the health and safety of American women and girls,” she said.
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins noted that Woodcock herself had testified in 2006 that “women have died and been injured ingesting these chemicals.”
“The parsed language of her letter downplays all the reasons for greater medical engagement,” Hawkins stated.
“We know that the chemicals have four times the complications of surgical abortion, can cause dangerous complications later in pregnancy and in ectopic pregnancies, and can harm women’s future fertility if handed out without proper screening and treatment for blood type,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins noted that the availability of the drugs through the mail poses a risk to women, “if abusers get hold of the drugs to force on women, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.”