by Stephanie Hauer
A Dutch doctor is now sending abortion-inducing pills to Americans. Around seven months ago, the organization known as Aid Access launched quietly as an extension of Dr. Rebecca Gomperts’ pre-existing organization, Women on Web. (1) Both of these organizations act as online consultation and prescription services for people in the early stages of pregnancy. The pregnant individual can go to the website, fill out an online questionnaire that evaluates their eligibility, and, if they qualify, receive mifepristone and misoprostol delivered to their doorstep. (2) The qualifications include general good health, less than 10 weeks’ gestation, and access to a hospital within an hour radius of the person’s home. (2) The nearby hospital is required due to the risk of side effects ranging from severe abdominal cramping, excessive bleeding, hemorrhage, infection, to even fatal sepsis. (2)
Since 2001, Dr. Gomperts has been mailing abortion drugs to people in the Netherlands and beyond. (3) In 2006, she started Women on Web as a “telemedicine support service” designed to ship abortion pills to women around the world. At first, she did not include America. Dr. Gomperts was worried that the pro-life movement in America would shut down her entire organization, preventing coverage to all countries just because of one country’s efforts. That fear kept her from shipping to the United States, until very recently. Dr. Gomperts receives numerous requests from people around the world who seek her services. One such request came from a pregnant woman in the U.S. who was living in a car with her two children. “Something had to be done,” said Dr. Gomperts. (1) That motivated her to create a spin-off organization, which came into existence as Aid Access. When American individuals qualify for the pills, Dr. Gomperts sends the prescriptions to an Indian pharmacy that she trusts. (2) The pharmacy then ships the pills to the person who requested them. In total, the cost is around $95, though the price can be negotiated or even waived if the person is unable to afford the pills. (4)
Dr. Gomperts is right about one thing. Something must be done about people in need, like the woman who was living in a car with her two kids. However, those actions need to be positive changes to end the systemic injustices that lead to these horrible situations. We must provide for the needs of the poor and vulnerable -- not simply assist them in killing their children. It should not be easier to exterminate the most fragile members of our society to make up for the fact that our institutions have failed us. Providing abortion pills to kill the preborn members of our human family does not solve the problem of crisis pregnancies. Instead, we must aim to undo the barriers that create the crisis in the first place, so that all babies can be welcomed as exciting, unique, and valuable human beings, rather than problems.
Thankfully, the FDA is investigating Aid Access for potential violation of United States law. One of the drugs used, mifepristone, is subject to tight distribution control. (5) Mifepristone can only be supplied directly to the patient by qualified and licensed healthcare providers. (6) Dr. Gomberts stated that the FDA allows the importation of medications for personal use, and believes that this covers her services. (1) However, the FDA has responded that, “Mifepristone, including Mifeprex, for termination of pregnancy is not legally available over the Internet. The agency claims that they take the allegations related to the sale of mifepristone in the U.S. through online distribution channels very seriously and is evaluating the allegations to assess potential violations of U.S. law.” (1) Similarly, Catherine Glenn Foster says that her organization, Americans United for Life, “is exploring the possibility of Congressional intervention to protect women [put at risk by these pills.]”
(1) Khazan, Olga. "Women in the U.S. Can Now Get Safe Abortions by Mail." The Atlantic. October 22, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/10/women-on-web-safe-abortion-mail/573322/.
(2) Belluz, Julia. "Abortions by Mail Are Available Now in the US. Here's What You Need to Know." Vox. October 22, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/10/20/17999996/abortion-mail-online-mifepristone-misoprostol.
(3) Bazelon, Emily. "The Dawn of the Post-Clinic Abortion." The New York Times. August 28, 2014. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/magazine/the-dawn-of-the-post-clinic-abortion.html.
(4) Holpuch, Amanda. "Website Offering Abortion Drugs by Mail Benefits Hundreds of Women in US." The Guardian. October 20, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/20/website-abortion-drugs-by-mail-us-women-aid-access.
(5) Shugerman, Emily. "U.S. Abortion Pill Website Under Investigation by the FDA." The Daily Beast. October 22, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.thedailybeast.com/us-abortion-pill-website-aid-access-under-investigation-by-the-fda?ref=scroll.
(6) Brinlee, Morgan. "The Website Shipping Abortion Pills To The US Is Already Under Investigation." Bustle. October 23, 2018. Accessed November 08, 2018. https://www.bustle.com/p/the-fda-is-investigating-aid-access-for-selling-abortion-pills-in-the-united-states-12640041.