Thirty-two Family Policy Council directors across the nation, including NC Family President John L. Rustin, have issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) urging them to uphold the current policy restricting telehealth doctors from prescribing chemical abortion drugs. This letter comes in response to a separate letter that was submitted by twenty-one state attorneys general—including North Carolina’s AG Josh Stein—to DHHS Secretary Azar and FDA Commissioner Hahn, asking for loosened restrictions on mifepristone, the drug that causes an abortion by starving a developing baby of a critical hormone called progesterone.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion activists have called for lifting of the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which prevents mifepristone from being prescribed via a telehealth consultation with an abortionist. These activists argue “the REMS create unnecessary delays for women who need access to time-sensitive healthcare and force them to travel unnecessarily.” During this pandemic, our nation’s healthcare system has labored to serve and heal its citizens, and doctors have expanded telehealth services to achieve this goal. But lifting this REMS restriction would mean that women do not have to leave their homes in order to procure drugs for an abortion, and, as the FPC directors argue in their letter, this would have disastrous implications.
The REMS that the FDA has in place for mifepristone “continues to be necessary to protect women. […] Mifepristone is known by the FDA to have serious adverse consequences that more than justify its current REMS.” The twenty-one state attorneys general argue “despite Mifepristone’s benefits and safety, the FDA subjects it to a REMS designation that is outdated…” but the adverse effects of this drug are well-documented and numerous. Many women have died, or suffered hemorrhaging or infection due to the use of mifepristone. (NC Family expands on the dangerous side effects of mifepristone and telehealth abortions in our radio show with Patrina Mosely of the Family Research Council.)
Finally, we are in the midst of a crippling pandemic in which the FDA and DHHS are at the center of researching and implementing treatments. Citing the fact that the FDA has reassessed the risks of this drug in both 2016 and 2019, the letter states, “It is imperative that the FDA does not waste resources by unnecessarily reevaluating the necessity of REMS restrictions for mifepristone amidst this national crisis.” Not only would lifting these REMS restrictions divert precious resources from curing COVID-19, but it also flies in the face of what we have all been saying during this pandemic: we must do everything we can to protect the vulnerable. That must surely include our most vulnerable, the unborn.