The pro-life chair of the U.S. bishops’ conference on Friday warned that loosening federal regulations of the abortion pill places women’s health “in serious jeopardy.”
Earlier this week, the acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that during the COVID-19 pandemic the agency would allow for the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed and dispensed remotely, through the mail or by mail-order pharmacies.
The new policy is a change from the FDA’s standards that have been in place since 2000, requiring the abortion pill regimen to be prescribed and dispensed in-person at a health clinic setting.
In response, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the USCCB’s pro-life committee, said in a statement, “It is difficult to see the FDA’s decision to not enforce important safety protocols as anything other than callous capitulation to the requests of abortion activists without regard for the health and safety of the women involved.”
Pro-abortion groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Civil Liberties Union, had pushed for the FDA to loosen its regulations during the pandemic. They argued that women should have the option of accessing the abortion pill regimen without having to travel to a health clinic.
Pro-life groups, such as the USCCB and the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, said that women taking the drugs alone might not have access to the medical treatment they would need, in the event of a complication arising from a chemical abortion.
“An in-person evaluation by a medical professional is necessary to accurately determine the age of the baby (abortion pills are only approved for use in the first 70 days), whether the pregnancy is ectopic (which the woman has no way of knowing on her own), and to test and treat for Rh-incompatibility between mother and baby,” Archbishop Naumann said.
“Without this information and proper treatment, a woman’s health, future fertility, and life are placed in serious jeopardy,” he said.
Archbishop Naumann said the decision places both women and unborn children at risk.
“With this decision, not only are women being sold the lie that abortion will solve their problems, but also that chemical abortion is a safe and easy way to go about it,” he said.
“By pushing women away from medical oversight, abortion advocates are luring women into isolated, unsafe, and medically unwise decisions. The inalienable dignity of women and their unborn children deserves so much more,” he said.
The Trump administration kept the previous regulations in place during the pandemic, and fought in court to maintain the requirement that the abortion pill be dispensed in-person.
Earlier this week, FDA acting commissioner Janet Woodcock told the ACOG in a letter that the agency would “exercise enforcement discretion” on their “in-person dispensing requirements” for the abortion pill regimen.
The policy would remain in place for the remainder of the public health emergency declared for the COVID-19 pandemic, she wrote.