President Joe Biden’s administration is lifting the Food and Drug Administration’s former restrictions on abortion drugs, allowing the abortion pills to be delivered by mail during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Supreme Court backed former President Donald Trump’s policy in January that the pills could not be dispensed by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. But in a Monday letter, according to Politico, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said that sending the drugs by mail will not increase risks for women and will protect those who want the drugs from COVID-19.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists had challenged the Trump administration’s requirement shortly after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but the court declined to intervene, allowing abortion clinics to continue administering the drugs remotely, according to Politico. The justices in January granted the Trump administration’s request that the rules be reinstated in a 6-3 decision.
The Biden administration also put a cautionary pause Tuesday on the use of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after six women reportedly developed “rare and severe” blood clots. The pause is recommended by both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA.
The FDA had approved the use of the abortion drug mifepristone, also called Mifeprex, in 2000 for up to 10 weeks’ gestation. But the FDA explicitly warned that buyers should not purchase Mifeprex over the Internet “because they will bypass important safeguards designed to protect their health.”
The FDA updated its website Tuesday to note that it conducted a “careful scientific review” of both in-person and by-mail dispensing of the drugs, “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.”
“The FDA’s intent to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to these requirements during the public health emergency is the result of a thorough scientific review by experts within FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), who evaluated relevant information, including available clinical outcomes data and adverse event reports,” the FDA’s website said.
The FDA did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Abortion Drugs, A Pandemic-Long Battle
Expanding access to abortion drugs by mail has been a major talking point for abortion advocates and media outlets during the pandemic.
Lifting the abortion drug restrictions means that “those in need of an abortion or miscarriage management will be able to do so safety and effectively by acquiring mifepristone though the mail — just as they would any other medication with a similarly strong safety profile,” ACOG Chief Executive Officer Maureen G. Phipps said Monday, Politico reported.
But pro-life advocates warned that lifting the drug restrictions not only endangers women and makes it more likely that abortions will increase.
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini cited FDA data from 2018 showing “thousands of adverse events caused by abortion pills” since 200, including hundreds of hospitalizations and 24 deaths.
“With this action, the Biden administration has made it clear that it will prioritize abortion over women’s safety,” Mancini said. “Allowing unsupervised chemical abortions via telemedicine, without requiring timely access to medical care, will put women in grave danger.”
What Happens During An At Home Abortion?
Planned Parenthood, which did not respond to requests for comment from the DCNF for this story, cites a number of possible but “really rare” complications that abortion drugs pose to women, including “blood clots in your uterus,” “bleeding too much or too long,” “infection,” “allergic reaction to one of the medicines,” “some of the pregnancy tissue is left in your uterus,” or “the abortion pills don’t work and the pregnancy doesn’t end.”
“First, you take a pill called mifepristone,” Planned Parenthood’s website said. “This medicine stops the pregnancy from growing. Some people feel nauseous or start bleeding after taking mifepristone, but it’s not common. Your doctor or nurse may also give you antibiotics to take to prevent infection.”
“The second medicine is called misoprostol,” the organization said. “You’ll either take the misoprostol right away, or up to 48 hours after you take the first pill — your doctor or nurse will let you know how and when to take it. This medicine causes cramping and bleeding to empty your uterus.”
Planned Parenthood said that the cramping and bleeding usually begins about 1-4 hours after taking misoprostol and usually lasts for several hours.
“It’s normal to see large blood clots (up to the size of a lemon) or clumps of tissue when this is happening,” Planned Parenthood said. “It’s kind of like having a really heavy, crampy period, and the process is very similar to an early miscarriage. (If you don’t have any bleeding within 24 hours after taking the second medicine, misoprostol, call your nurse or doctor.)”
“Most people finish passing the pregnancy tissue in 4-5 hours, but it may take longer,” Planned Parenthood said. “The cramping and bleeding slows down after the pregnancy tissue comes out. You may have cramping on and off for 1 or 2 more days.”
Planned Parenthood notes that it is normal for women to have bleeding and spotting for a few weeks after the abortion.
“The last step is a follow up with your nurse or doctor,” Planned Parenthood’s website said. “You may go back into the health center for an ultrasound or blood test. Or you’ll get a pregnancy test to take at home, followed by a phone call with your nurse or doctor. These tests will make sure the abortion worked and that you’re healthy.”