For almost a decade, North Carolina has had a law in place to regulate the prescribing of the so-called “abortion pill,” because at-home abortions can be so dangerous for women, not to mention their unborn children. Tragically, last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the first pill in the chemical abortion regimen can be prescribed via telemedicine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While this change does not preempt North Carolina’s state law, pregnant women in many other states will no longer have to visit a doctor or a clinic in-person to receive the abortion pill, as had previously been the case.
The two-part abortion drug regimen—also referred to as RU-486—consists of mifepristone, which is administered to starve the unborn baby of progesterone, and then misoprostol, which causes cramping and is intended to expel the dead baby from the womb. Under Senate Bill 353, which passed the N.C. General Assembly in 2013, a physician “prescribing, dispensing, or otherwise providing any drug or chemical for the purpose of inducing an abortion shall be physically present in the same room as the patient when the first drug or chemical is administered to the patient.” The purpose of this measure was to prohibit chemical abortions by telemedicine and to protect women from suffering alone at home from severe infection, hemorrhaging, and other complications that can accompany chemical abortions.
“One of [the] biggest concerns on the national level is the push for at-home chemical abortions,” says Catherine Glenn Foster, President of Americans United for Life. According to Foster, North Carolina’s law requiring that mifepristone be taken in the presence of a physician has made our state “a model for the nation.”
But in April of last year, twenty-one state attorneys general, including North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein, sent a letter to the FDA and Department of Health and Human Services asking for a lifting of the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which prevented mifepristone from being prescribed via the Internet. The attorneys general argued that requiring an in-person consultation increased the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
NC Family and thirty-one other Family Policy Councils responded by submitting our own letter to the DHHS and the FDA, urging them to maintain the restriction, which they did at the time.
Now, remarkably, as the COVID-19 pandemic is winding down and vaccines are becoming more and more available for all Americans, a new pro-abortion administration in Washington has announced that the in-person requirement for dispensing mifepristone “may present additional COVID-related risks,” and doctors can now prescribe the medication remotely.
This is only going to place more women and unborn children at risk.