". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

Commentary

FRC Amicus Reveals How Politicized FDA Approved Abortion Drugs

February 15, 2023

Since its original approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2000, the chemical abortion regimen has proven itself to be among the most pressing concerns for the pro-life movement. As of early 2022, chemical abortions already accounted for over half of all abortions in the United States — a ratio that has only been augmented by the evolving legal landscape surrounding the protection of unborn life in the states after Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

A new lawsuit led by Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro-life legal organization heavily involved in the Dobbs case, is now representing four national medical associations and four physicians in a lawsuit against the federal government, seeking to reverse FDA approval for abortion drugs on the basis that they were approved illegally. Family Research Council (FRC) submitted one of 15 friend-of-the-court briefs in the case, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Chris Gacek, coalitions senior research fellow at FRC and author of the amicus brief, explained, “A friend of the court (amicus curiae) brief is typically drafted to inform the judge about a focused topic. In this instance, FRC wanted to inform the court about the highly politicized nature of mifepristone’s approval process from 1993 to September 2000.” FRC’s brief seeks to, “give the Court additional background regarding the unorthodox and troubling manner in which the FDA approved chemical abortion drugs in 2000, after a years-long process in which science, health and safety took a back seat to the bare-knuckles political tactics of the abortion industry and the Clinton administration.”

Gacek continued, “President Clinton’s version of Operation Warp Speed was to do everything humanly possible to bring a chemical abortifacient to market in America. It depended upon coercively negotiating with the French patent rights holder and pharmaceutical firm Roussel Uclaf to get those rights handed over to an American pro-abortion group that pledged to file a ‘new drug application’ with the FDA.”

Though certainly disturbing, it is unsurprising to note the reckless manner in which the chemical abortion regimen was approved for public consumption in the United States, given that any abortionist or physician prescribing chemical abortion drugs is likewise recklessly disregarding the wellbeing of the mother. One study of 42,600 women concluded that chemical abortions are four times more likely to cause severe complications than standard surgical abortions. Among the health risks caused by chemical abortions are severe bleeding, infection, retained fetal parts, need for emergency surgery, hemorrhage, and even death; bleeding can continue for up to 30 days.

“We also pointed out that FDA documents indicate that in 2000 this organization started to back out on important safety commitments it made in 1996. A public-private political backlash was orchestrated when the FDA proposed relatively tough safety requirements in June 2000. The FDA’s safety proposal was overcome, and the drug was approved with weak safety standards in September 2000,” Gacek concluded.

The chemical abortion drug regimen is composed of two drugs: mifepristone and misoprostol. The first drug blocks the mother’s flow of the essential pregnancy hormone progesterone, effectively starving the unborn child of nourishment until he or she dies. The second drug causes intense uterine contractions that expel the deceased child and other embryonic tissues from the mother’s womb.

After approving chemical abortion drugs with already flimsy safety standards in 2000, the FDA has continued to demonstrate apathy for the safety of women by furthering loosening safety protocols. Today, chemical abortion drugs can be dispensed by retail pharmacies and prescribed via telehealth appointments that open up a world of dangerous possibilities for women. Chemical abortions are only approved for intrauterine pregnancies through 70 days gestation; an in-person examination is necessary to accurately date a pregnancy and ensure that the pregnancy is not ectopic. Attempting a chemical abortion on a child farther along in gestation or in the case of an ectopic pregnancy could result in even more severe complications for the mother, including death.

The Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine has taken a bold step toward protecting both unborn children and their mothers from the dangers of chemical abortion drugs. As FRC’s amicus brief helpfully outlines, the FDA has illegally and recklessly allowed these drugs to endanger mothers and babies for 23 years. Pregnancy is not, and never has been, an illness that requires remedying. True medication causes healing and promotes human flourishing; the chemical abortion regimen has no place on the pharmaceutical market.

Joy Stockbauer is a correspondent for The Washington Stand.