FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL: Pro-life experts warned Republican Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford that the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to allow the distribution of abortion drugs to women and girls by mail is endangering women across the country.
Lankford discussed the ramifications of the move in an episode of his podcast “The Breakdown” with Dr. Donna Harrison, associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute and Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Erik Baptist. The conversation comes as the Supreme Court considers whether to allow restrictions on the abortion drugs to take effect.
“It is important that people understand the reality behind this case and not some of the incredibly deceptive spin,” Harrison told Lankford. She explained that drug-induced abortion typically involves mifepristone, which blocks progesterone (which the woman’s body makes to let her body carry and nourish her unborn child).
“When mifepristone is around, the progesterone can’t allow the woman’s body to nourish the baby. This is a problem because then the baby dies, but the baby is not often expelled just by being dead. So a second drug has to be used, and that is misoprostol, and that drug causes the uterus to contract, and squeeze out the baby who has died, and hopefully the placenta.”
The problem, Harrison warned, is that the further along a woman is in her pregnancy, the less effective this drug cocktail is.
“So at seven weeks after the first day of her last menstrual period, she has about a 1 in 20 chance of needing a surgery to complete her abortion. But if she’s 13 weeks … then she is going to have a 1 out of 3 chance of needing a surgical abortion.”
This “willy-nilly” access, wherein women get abortion pills by mail without ever seeing a doctor, means that they never get an accurate due date, Harrison said.
“She never gets an accurate age of the pregnancy, and without that accurate age of the pregnancy, there is no way she can have adequate informed consent, which is a right of every woman, to have adequate informed consent prior to a procedure,” the doctor insisted.
This increases the risk of additional surgery, of having tissue left inside the mother’s womb, and other complications, according to Harrison.
The senator emphasized that advocates often describe the abortion drugs as “safe,” even though the FDA formerly required women to have a visit with a physician before obtaining them.
“That’s a massive change on this,” he said.
Baptist agreed, pointing out that the FDA formerly recognized dangers associated with the drugs when it approved the use of mifepristone for chemical abortions in September 2000.
Alliance Defending Freedom is lead counsel in a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and four doctors suing the federal government for “illegally approving chemical abortion drugs that harm girls and women.”
“There is a longstanding statute called the Comstock Act, it’s been on the books for a long time … and it [says] expressly and in plain terms on the statute that you cannot mail any drug intended to induce or provide an abortion using the U.S. postal system, a common carrier, or an express company,” Baptist explained.
“So it’s very clear on its face, and the Biden administration disregarded that law when they expressly approved mail order abortions. And so we have brought that claim into our lawsuit, because federal agencies aren’t just responsible for enforcing the laws that govern the agency … you’re supposed to comply with all federal laws.”
The doctors represented by ADF have accused the FDA of choosing politics over science by pushing for the legalization of the chemical abortion drugs.
“The FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs has always stood on shaky legal and moral ground, and after years of evading responsibility, it’s time for the government to do what it’s legally required to do: protect the health and safety of vulnerable girls and women,” Baptist said in a statement in November. “On behalf of the national health care organizations and physicians we represent, we ask the court to hold the FDA accountable for its reckless, unlawful behavior. We urge the court to reject the marketing and distribution of dangerous chemical abortion drugs so that the health, safety, and welfare of women are protected.”
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