A European doctor is now suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for blocking her efforts to sell abortion pills online to women in the United States.
In a lawsuit filed Monday, Rebecca Gomperts, founder of the online abortion pill company “Access Aid,” accused the FDA of seizing drugs she’d sent to patients in the mail and blocking payments for her services. According to Gomperts, her online abortion pill service helps women circumvent obstacles to early-term abortions like clinic access and state regulations which could include heartbeat bills, ultrasound requirements and mandatory waiting periods.
The FDA ordered Access Aid to cease selling abortion pills online in the U.S. back in March, determining that the practice didn’t meet their standards of safety and posed an “inherent risk” to the women who order them.
"The sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products," the agency said in their letter, per CNN. "Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated; counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether."
According to Gomperts' lawyer, the doctor stopped prescribing the pills to women in the U.S. - for about two months. She then started up again, despite having been ordered by the FDA to stop.
Access Aid provides abortion pills to women who are allegedly less than nine weeks pregnant, doling them out based on "online consultations" that don’t involve actually seeing a doctor to determine their health, background, or how far along they actually are in their pregnancy. If the woman appears to meet the criteria via the online meeting, Gompert then writes a prescription and sends it to a pharmacy in India, where it’s presumably filled correctly before being shipped to the woman’s home in the United States.
Assuming they’re processed, filled and mailed correctly, the abortion pills – specifically mifepristone, (also known as RU486) and misoprostol – work in combination to induce a miscarriage, a process that carries inherent risks and, in some cases, can even be fatal. The FDA reports potential side effects of the drugs include uncontrolled bleeding that requires surgery, sepsis, flu-like symptoms and even death.
Even under the best of circumstances, women who take the one-two abortion combo at home are left alone to miscarry their babies, an often painful and lengthy process that ends with expelling the child most typically in the toilet.
Access Aid is Gomperts’ second venture into the growing online abortion pill industry. She also founded Women on Web, another mail-order abortion pill group that heavily advertised online abortion pills during the Zika outbreak in South America and to women in Ireland where, up until recently, most abortions had been banned by law.