National News

Catholic, Pro-Life Groups Critical of FDA Decision to Widen Access to Abortion Pills

A box of the RU-486 drug, known generically as mifepristone and by its brand name Mifeprex, is seen in an undated handout photo. The U.S. FDA has approved distributing of the abortion pill through retail pharmacies, a move that could transform the US abortion industry and poses new challenges to the church’s pro-life ministry. (Photo: OSV News)

By The Tablet Staff

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration finalized on Tuesday a rule change that broadens the availability of abortion pills to many more pharmacies, including large chains and mail-order companies.

The Biden administration partially implemented the change last year, announcing it would no longer enforce a long-standing requirement that women pick up the medicine in person. Tuesday’s ruling formally updates the drug’s labeling to allow more retail pharmacies to dispense the pills, provided they complete a certification process.

More than half of U.S. abortions are now done with pills rather than surgery, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights.

The change could expand access at both stores and online pharmacies. Women can get a prescription via telehealth consultation with a health professional and then receive the pills through the mail, where permitted by law.

Some Catholic and pro-life groups have expressed concern about the safety of the drug. In a document outlining its opposition to expanding access to the drug for abortions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops argued that the FDA rejects safeguards governing its use that are in place in other countries, noting that in Sweden, for example, a woman undergoing a medication abortion would be “supervised by the midwife for four to six hours at the outpatient clinic.”

In a statement, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said: “The Biden administration has once again proved that it values abortion industry profits over women’s safety and unborn children’s lives.”

“Abortion activists want to turn every post office and pharmacy into an abortion business, and the Biden FDA is a willing participant — even while studies show emergency rooms are being flooded with women suffering from serious, life-threatening complications caused by abortion drugs,” Dannenfelser said. “Chemical abortion pills can cause dangerous complications including hemorrhage and infection, and complications are more likely when pills are dispensed without medical screening or follow-up care.”

Dannenfelser said that some pro-life governors “understand this threat, which is why many states have enacted safeguards to protect women and their unborn children.”

“State lawmakers and Congress must stand as a bulwark against the Biden administration’s pro-abortion extremism,” Dannenfelser added. “We hope to see the FDA do its job to protect the lives of women and put an end to chemical abortions.”

While the ruling was expected, legal experts expect years of lawsuits in states that have passed pro-life laws restricting abortions.

Drugstore chains CVS and Walgreens said on Tuesday that they are reviewing the updated requirements.

“We’re reviewing the FDA’s updated Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) drug safety program certification requirements for mifepristone to determine the requirements to dispense in states that do not restrict the dispensing of medications prescribed for elective termination of pregnancy,” a CVS spokesman said.