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USA: Appeals Court ends mail-order abortion regime

  • FDA must restore vital safeguards for chemical abortion drugs, 5th Circuit rules
  • Appeals court ends mail-order abortion regime, requires FDA to protect health & safety of women
  • 1 in 17 UK women who take mail-ordered abortion pills via “pills by post” scheme require hospitalization

NEW ORLEANS/LONDON (18 August 2023) – In a victory for women’s health, a unanimous panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration must restore critical safeguards for chemical abortion drugs and disallow their shipment by mail.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing four medical associations and four doctors experienced in caring for pregnant and post-abortive women asked the 5th Circuit to uphold a federal district court’s decision protecting the health and safety of women and girls against chemical abortion drugs.

“The 5th Circuit rightly required the FDA to do its job and restore crucial safeguards for women and girls, including ending illegal mail-order abortions,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erin Hawley, vice president of the ADF Center for Life and Regulatory Practice, who argued before the court on behalf of the medical associations and doctors.

The FDA will finally be made to account for the damage it has caused to the health of countless women and girls and the rule of law by unlawfully removing every meaningful safeguard from the chemical abortion drug regimen. The FDA’s unprecedented and unlawful actions did not reflect scientific judgment but rather revealed politically driven decisions to push a dangerous drug regimen without regard to women’s health or the rule of law. This is a significant victory for the doctors and medical associations we represent and, more importantly, the health and safety of women.”

Find out full details on the case here.

In the UK, a similar controversial abortion “pills by post” scheme was introduced under Covid regulations in March 2020, and has been continued. The scheme allows women to order abortion pills over the phone without any in-person medical examination, which has led to fears over upholding healthcare standards and safeguarding against coercion.

Evidence collected from 85 freedom of information requests to NHS trusts revealed that more than 1 in 17 women, around 20 a day, who used the pills by post service in 2020 needed hospital treatment. A GB News investigation found that ambulance dispatches and 999 calls responding to abortion pill concerns rose by 64% between 2019 and 2022.

Reflecting on Wednesday’s US Court decision in light of safeguarding concerns related to the “pills by post” scheme in the UK, ADF UK’s Senior Legal Communications Officer Lois McLatchie Miller commented:

“This is a common-sense decision that protects vulnerable women from the real dangers of “DIY” abortions performed in their own bathrooms. In the UK, our “pills by post” abortion scheme – while lucrative for the abortion industry – has led to 1 in 17 women who take mail-ordered pills needing hospitalization. The recent high-profile case of Carla Foster demonstrated the severe harms that mailing abortion pills with no in-person medical supervision can cause – leading to the death of an eight-month old baby, and causing Carla to suffer severe trauma. Women deserve far better than this.”

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