Draft law would preserve abortion pill restrictions

Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- New federal legislation has been drafted to preserve restrictions on the availability of abortion pills. The Support and Value Expectant Moms and Babies Act (SAVE) was introduced Thursday by pro-life congressional leaders in response to efforts to broaden access to chemical abortions in the United States.

“While the national abortion rate decline is a welcome sign, the dramatic rise in use of the abortion pill should worry pro-life activists and pro-abortion activists alike,” stated Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio), sponsor of the SAVE Moms and Babies Act which he introduced in the House Sept. 19.

“The SAVE Moms & Babies Act helps ensure this abortion method is recognized for what it is: dangerous,” Latta said.

Mifepristone—also known as Mifeprex—is the first of two drugs used in the RU-486 chemical abortion process, and its use together with Misopristol is highly-regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mifeprex causes the mother’s body to stop nourishing the unborn child; Misoprostol, taken afterward, causes contractions and expels the child and placenta from the mother’s body.

The FDA has applied special guidelines, the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), to the two-drug process. Under REMS, the drugs can only be prescribed and dispensed by a certified health care provider in a health care setting, and can only be administered up to 70 days after the woman’s last menstrual cycle.

Abortion advocates are pushing for increased access to the drugs through mail order, online and through telemedicine.

In 2016, the FDA adopted revisions to its guidelines which included removing the requirement that the drugs be prescribed by a physician. The REMS process is still in place.

“Lawmakers and advocates pushing for this pill to be available on demand and over the counter are neglecting the safety and health of women across this country,” Rep. Latta said, noting that chemical abortions already pose danger for the mother even with medical oversight.

“Without proper medical oversight, it has resulted in hospitalizations, severe complications, and several deaths,” he said.

The SAVE Moms and Babies Act would prevent the removal of the FDA’s existing REMS standards for the abortion pill, and would also prohibit the remote dispensing of the pill through the mail or by telemedicine. It would also block new chemical abortion drugs from FDA approval.

Pro-life groups are warning that increased access to chemical abortions could result in more women experiencing dangerous complications if they self-administer the abortion pill without proper medical oversight.

According to a 2018 GAO report, the FDA recorded around 4,200 incidents of Mifeprex-related “adverse events” between its approval in September of 2000 and June 30, 2017. Out of approximately 3.2 million women who have used the drug, 20 deaths were reported during that period, the report found.

The report added that “FDA has conducted a variety of monitoring activities and these have not identified significant concerns with the safety and use of Mifeprex, in accordance with its approved REMS.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2271 teaches that “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion” and that direct abortion “is gravely contrary to the moral law.” In addition to being a mortal sin, the procurement of a completed abortion is a canonical crime carrying with it the penalty of excommunication.

In 2009, when Italy legalized the abortion pill, the president emeritus of the Pontifical Academy for Life Monsignor Elio Sgreccia said it was no different than a surgical abortion and stated that “there will be excommunication for the doctor, the woman, and anyone who encourages its use.”

“First abortion was legalized to stop it being clandestine, but now doctors are washing their hands of it and transferring the burden of conscience to women,” Monsignor Sgreccia said, as reported by Reuters.

Bishops in California are currently working to oppose state legislation, currently waiting for the governor’s signature, that would force the state’s universities to offer chemical abortions to students. 

Latta’s bill comes after Planned Parenthood’s research arm, the Guttmacher Institute, reported an overall decline in the abortion rate to an all-time low in the U.S., with an estimated 862,000 abortions in 2017.

However, the percentage of chemical abortions in “nonhospital facilities” has gone up 25% since 2014, to a total of 339,640 abortions—39% of the overall abortion number.

Guttmacher admitted that the overall abortion decline might not be as steep as reported, in part due to unreported “self-managed abortions.” Mifeprex and Misoprostol “are becoming increasingly available online, as are resources about how to safely and effectively self-manage an abortion outside of a clinical setting,” the report stated.

“The industry’s migration to chemical self-abortion is deeply disturbing,” said Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a pro-life organization. He also noted that the trend could push the abortion rate back up in the future but with a “higher rate of injury” to women.

Mallory Quigley, vice president of communications for Susan B. Anthony List, said the increase in chemical abortions is part of the abortion industry’s determination to profit “off the destruction of unborn children and wounding of mothers” while cutting overhead costs.

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