The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is attempting to expand abortion rights by removing restrictions on abortion pills. Representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in an effort to make abortion drug mifepristone more accessible during the pandemic.
Abortion activists are seeking to loosen federal safety regulations under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic. The ACLU claims in their official complaint that the lawsuit is to protect patients during the pandemic from “unnecessary travel and personal interactions” that jeopardize “the health and lives of patients and clinicians.”
However, this is not the first time the ACLU has sought to lift restrictions regarding mifepristone. In 2017 the ACLU acted on behalf of a Hawaiian doctor and several other healthcare professionals to file a similar lawsuit. The goal of the case is to lift restrictions set by the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) program. REMS requires that patients receive the medication from “a clinic, medical office, or hospital from a health care provider.” They further stipulate that prescribers must be “pre-registered with the drug manufacturer.”
Currently only two abortion drugs are approved by the FDA with strict regulations in place to ensure patient safety. Between 2012-2018 the FDA reported 1,455 cases of an “adverse event” from taking the pill. In fact, the manufacturers of mifepristone outline that “cramping and bleeding” are a sign that the medication is working. Sound safe?
The call to remove the restrictions placed on mifepristone ignore the dangers that could befall women taking the medication. The FDA outlines that the restrictions are “necessary to ensure the safe use of that drug.” They went on to report that to be able to prescribe the pill, healthcare providers “must be able to ensure that women have access to medical facilities for emergency care.” Removing restrictions would weaken support provided to patients who have poor reactions to the pill and lower abortion care standards in the future.
This is especially worrying as the pandemic has caused abortion rates to increase. Julie Burkhart, an abortion clinic manager, told CBS News that a single clinic performed 252 abortions in March this year. This is a dramatic increase in comparison to the 90 performed in March of 2019. With abortion rates rising it is important, now more than ever, to uphold strict rules to protect patients.
If the ACLU succeeds in removing restrictions to mifepristone, healthcare providers could soon face a spike in adverse reactions. Our healthcare system relies on uncompromising regulations that ensure quality care—sacrificing our standards will lead to dire consequences.