On January 12, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a stay that will allow a longtime FDA safeguard to remain in place regarding the abortion pill. When it comes to women’s safety, it was the right call, but the pro-abortion website Slate disagrees, claiming SCOTUS has just acted to “restrict access” to health care. Slate neglected to mention the dangers of the abortion pill, and instead parroted the abortion industry claim that the abortion pill is safer than Tylenol.
The FDA imposed a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) on the abortion pill in 2011, during the Obama administration. As a result of the REMS, the abortion pill must be dispensed by a certified provider in a clinic, hospital, or medical office. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, abortion industry insiders who had long wished to make money off of at-home abortions, saw an opportunity to use the pandemic as an excuse. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in May 2020 and Federal U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled in favor of the ACLU in July allowing the abortion pill to be taken outside of a medical facility for the duration of the pandemic. But the abortion industry had a bigger goal — to ensure the abortion pill becomes available for DIY at-home abortions permanently. The FDA appealed Chuang’s ruling and the SCOTUS decision means the FDA rule stands.
False claim: The abortion pill is safer than Tylenol.
According to Slate, the “court cited volumes of evidence about the safety of medication abortions and the dangers of the pandemic. (For example, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report found that the risk associated with taking mifepristone is similar to that of aspirin or ibuprofen.)”
Truth: The abortion pill carries significant risks to women’s health, but it seems Slate did not speak to any women who had suffered from its effects. The abortion pill has been found to be four times more dangerous than a first-trimester surgical abortion and is nowhere near as safe as aspirin or ibuprofen for the average healthy individual. When the UK allowed at-home abortions using the abortion pill after the pandemic began, two women died as a result. Thousands of women have experienced complications of the abortion pill, according to the FDA, and at least 24 have died.
It is vital that women have an in-person visit to obtain the abortion pill. The pregnancy must be dated accurately because the abortion pill is only FDA-approved up to 10 weeks. As gestational age increases, the abortion pill’s failure rate also increases. Prescribing the abortion pill without full knowledge of the woman’s pregnancy is unethical and irresponsible. In addition, a woman should be examined for ectopic pregnancy before taking the abortion pill, or her risk of dying is 30% higher than a woman with an ectopic pregnancy who had not sought an abortion, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG). Evaluation of Rh status is also essential before taking the abortion pill. If Rhogam is not given, the woman risks losing her future preborn children, according to the ACOG.
But Slate’s main concern seems to be the existence of any type of abortion regulation.
False claim: The Supreme Court’s reasoning is “a mystery.”
Slate claims the “reasoning behind the stay is largely a mystery” because only Chief Justice John Roberts explained his decision to approve the stay.
Truth: As Slate later admits, SCOTUS does not typically give an explanation for its decisions on stay applications. So this case was no different, except that Roberts actually gave a logical explanation for his decision, writing:
The question before us is not whether the requirements for dispensing mifepristone impose an undue burden on a woman’s right to an abortion as a general matter. The question is instead whether the District Court properly ordered the Food and Drug Administration to lift those established requirements because of the court’s own evaluation of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here as in related contexts concerning government responses to the pandemic, my view is that courts owe significant deference to the politically accountable entities with the “background, competence, and expertise to assess public health.”
Essentially, one judge — in this case Judge Theodore Chuang — should not be able to override the decision of the FDA.
False claim: “Women seeking abortions faced the choice between risking exposure to the coronavirus or not having a medication abortion at all.”
Slate sees this as “burdensome,” but it is the same “burden” which all Americans currently face: the choice to potentially expose oneself to COVID-19 or not. Slate argues that the FDA waived in-person requirements for “several controlled substances” and therefore should do the same for the abortion pill — which is not a controlled substance.
Truth: Anyone who seeks any level of medical care during the pandemic is taking the risk of potential exposure to COVID-19 — cancer patients, people who need life-saving surgery, children with chronic health conditions. This isn’t something only expected of women seeking abortions, and abortion is not health care.
When it comes to controlled substances, the DEA has specific rules in place regarding telemedicine during the pandemic. Chuang’s ruling allowed the abortion pill to be dispensed via online pharmacies. Pharmacists, Chuang determined, were allowed to act as “agents” of the certified abortion pill prescribers and to store the abortion pill “on behalf” of the abortionist.
Allowing the abortion industry to further prey on the vulnerability of women seeking an abortion by not giving them complete examinations prior to giving them the abortion pill is irresponsible. Using the pandemic as an excuse to cut down on overhead expenses is unethical, and the Supreme Court was correct in determining that a single judge should not get to erase longtime safety protocols meant to protect women.
Editor’s Note 4/16/21: “The FDA has received reports of serious adverse events in women who took Mifeprex. As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with Mifeprex since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (also called sepsis), including some that were fatal.
The adverse events cannot with certainty be causally attributed to mifepristone because of concurrent use of other drugs, other medical or surgical treatments, co-existing medical conditions, and information gaps about patient health status and clinical management of the patient. A summary report of adverse events that reflects data through December 31, 2018 is here.” https://www.fda.gov/drugs/postmarket-drug-safety-information-patients-and-providers/questions-and-answers-mifeprex
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