Judge Suspends FDA Rule Requiring In-Person Doctor’s Visit Before Mifepristone Abortion

WASHINGTON, D.C.— On Monday, July 13, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang suspended the FDA rule, which among other things, requires a woman to have an in-person doctor’s visit before undergoing a chemical (“medication”) abortion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Associated Press, Judge Chuang “concluded that the ‘in-person requirements’ for patients seeking medication abortion care impose a ‘substantial obstacle’ to abortion patients.” Judge Chuang’s “ruling will allow healthcare providers to arrange for mifepristone to be mailed or delivered to patients” during the pandemic.

“We are dismayed at Judge Chuang’s decision to suspend the FDA requirement,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. “The end goal of the abortion industry is to have the drugs sent through the mail making possible ‘Do-It-Yourself’ abortions. However, this is not some benign ‘take-two-aspirin’ treatment.”

Under the FDA’s “Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy” (REMS), only FDA-approved entities can distribute mifepristone, one of the two-drugs that make up the medication abortion technique.

When the FDA approved mifepristone as an abortion method, REMS restrictions were put in place because women face potentially life-threatening complications that have been associated with the use of the drug. An FDA record of nearly two dozen deaths and thousands of complications, including “adverse events” such as serious infections, severe hemorrhage, and the rupture of previously undiscovered ectopic pregnancies, has proved that the REMS restrictions are necessary to protect women.

“Mifepristone abortions put at risk perfectly healthy mothers who are pregnant with perfectly healthy babies,” said Tobias. “No woman’s life should be placed at risk because abortion activists are trying to score political points.”

In a letter sent to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D., thirty-eight Senators and 121 Representatives urged “robust enforcement” of the REMS involving the mifepristone abortion-drug process. The members of Congress wrote,

Despite claims that medication abortion is safe and easy, research proves that as many as five to seven percent of women who take abortion drugs will require follow-up surgery, and three percent could end up in the emergency room. Self-managed abortions from home are especially dangerous; in fact, half of abortion providers do not consider them safe, according to a 2019 survey published in the journal Contraception. Further, medication abortion becomes even more dangerous in situations where women cannot access emergency medical care. This is especially concerning during the COVID-19 pandemic as emergency rooms are currently being overwhelmed.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

Founded in 1968, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters, is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots pro-life organization. Recognized as the flagship of the pro-life movement, NRLC works through legislation and education to protect innocent human life from abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide and euthanasia.