The groups are putting women at “significant health risks,” according to the agency. They allow women to buy the drugs online without ever seeing a doctor, though abusive partners or parents could easily buy the drugs as well.
The FDA told the abortion providers AidAccess and Rablon to “immediately cease” providing the drugs in violation of health and safety regulations, according to the letter dated March 8 on the agency website.
“Failure to correct these violations may result in FDA regulatory action, including seizure or injunction, without further notice,” the letter states.
It noted that approved abortion drugs in the U.S. are dangerous even when provided legally, writing, “… the drug carries a risk of serious or even life-threatening adverse effects, including serious and sometimes fatal infections and prolonged heavy bleeding …”
LifeNews reported about the pro-abortion website Aid Access in October. The same abortion activists who run Women on Web, a Netherlands-based abortion group that ships abortion drugs to women across the world – often illegally, set up the site specifically for American women. The leader is Rebecca Gomperts.
Ignoring serious concerns about women’s safety, left-wing news sites took up the cause of the abortion groups. Vox and Jezebel both suggested the abortion websites are helping women as access to abortion facilities declines across the U.S.
“We’ve been very active in combating illegal online sales of unapproved medicine,” an agency spokesperson told Vox. “This is not about the particular product. This is business as usual for FDA.”
Reproductive rights activists, however, view the crackdown slightly differently: as another move that’ll make it harder for patients to have a safe abortion. “As access to clinic-based abortion care becomes more constrained because of legal restrictions, more women may turn to these websites as they look for options to end an unwanted pregnancy,” said Daniel Grossman, a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at UCSF.
Instead of going after these websites, Grossman continued, the FDA “might better use its resources to explore how the medically unnecessary restrictions” on the drugs — through the risk mitigation program — “could be lessened in order to improve access to safe abortion care.”
Unlike Jezebel, Vox at least noted that the drugs can be potentially fatal to the woman as well as her unborn child (though the report did not mention babies in the womb).
Risks of mifepristone and misoprostol, the most common abortion drugs taken together to abort and then expel an unborn baby from the womb, include excessive bleeding, severe abdominal pain, infection, hemorrhage and death.
The report continues:
With Gomperts’s service, there are additional safety questions. Again, the pills patients get are not FDA-approved: They come through a pharmacy based in India. That means US health regulators have no oversight, and there’s the risk of adulteration or improper dosing. (Grossman noted that researchers in the US ordered mifepristone and misoprostol online from India for a recent study, and found the mifepristone products contained the correct dose but some of the misoprostol tablets were “degraded and less potent than they should have been.”)
There’s also the risk that a patient has an ectopic pregnancy but doesn’t know about it. In these cases, the drugs won’t work.
The report did not mention that, in the case of an unknown ectopic pregnancy, the drugs can be fatal to the mother.
Little is known about Rablon, which sells the abortion drugs through various websites, according to the report. The FDA reports its packaging does not include sufficient directions, among other more serious concerns.
Gomperts, who founded Women on Web and the new Aid Access, said she fills the prescriptions for American women herself. She said she sends the prescriptions to a pharmacy in India, which then ships the drugs to women in the U.S. The drugs are sold for $95 to women up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.
Gomperts previously said she is afraid pro-life groups will try to shut down her organization, a fear that prevented her from selling abortion drugs in America before now.
Her website emphasizes that the abortion drugs are very safe, but it also tells women it is “absolutely necessary” to live within an hour of a hospital “in case you lose too much blood” – an indication that the drugs are not as safe as Gomperts claims.
The website also points to studies showing that one in 10 women who take the abortion drugs will have an incomplete abortion – which can lead to infection or other life-threatening complications.
Just as alarming, the website repeatedly encourages women to lie if they do start experiencing complications. “Say you think you have had a miscarriage,” it tells women, claiming doctors may not be able to tell the difference.
To abort an unborn baby, women first take mifepristone, which works by blocking the hormone progesterone, causing the uterine wall to break down and basically suffocating the unborn baby. A second drug, misoprostol, then induces contractions to expel the unborn child’s body.