Every life matters | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Every life matters


WORLD Radio - Every life matters

Pro-lifers push back on the FDA allowing women to take abortion pills with potentially life-threatening side effects without medical supervision

Abortion activists outside of the Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday the 28th of March, 2024. This is WORLD Radio and we thank you for listening. Good morning! I’m Myrna Brown.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. First up on The World and Everything in It: Chemical abortions.

Now a quick word to parents that this may not be a story suitable for young listeners. This is the time to skip ahead or just come back later. We’ll be talking about the drug mifepristone.

BROWN: Yes, the abortion drug. These days, women can get it in the mail without seeing a doctor in person.

It wasn’t always like that. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration used to require several in-person visits. One reason for that was to make sure the woman would have medical help should she experience any complications.

REICHARD: But the FDA watered down those requirements in the past few years. Then, in 2022, a group of pro-life doctors sued, arguing they were seeing more women in emergency departments with complications from chemical abortion.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case this week. I’ll bring analysis of those arguments in Monday’s Legal Docket, but suffice it to say the justices primarily focused on standing. That is, whether the doctors had enough connection to and harm from the FDA’s handling of mifepristone use.

BROWN: Today, we’ll explore another question that remains to be answered. It goes without saying abortion pills kill an unborn child; but for our purposes today, are abortion pills physically safe for the woman?

WORLD’s Leah Savas has the story.

SOUND: [Robot]

LEAH SAVAS: On Tuesday morning, small black and white robots roll around among the demonstrators in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. They look like a cross between a Star Wars stormtrooper and the robot EVE from the Disney/Pixar movie Wall-E. Attached to the top of the robots are small boxes labeled “mifepristone” along with stickers that read “Abortion pills by mail, all 50 states.”

SOUND: [Robot]

A bigger one holds a yellow sign advertising the Aid Access website.

That’s the group behind the robots. The abortion pill organization says doctors in pro-abortion states are operating the robots remotely and can legally dispense pills to people outside of the court. Later, someone posts a video on social media showing a woman ingesting a pill in front of the courthouse.

WOMAN: I’m gonna do this to demonstrate how important it is for this pill to be accessible.

Here, she takes a swig from a water bottle and pops a white pill into her mouth.

WOMAN: Tastes like freedom!

Pro-lifers say the FDA has allowed this separation of women and the abortionists prescribing the drug, leaving women to undergo chemical abortions without medical supervision.

On top of that, the FDA in 2016 changed the reporting requirements for mifepristone. Now, providers only have to report deaths associated with the drug, not injuries.

NANCY WOZNIAK: What is reportable is so extreme, that it doesn't catch the number of women who are saved.

That’s Dr. Nancy Wozniak, one of several pro-life doctors who submitted declarations in the case. She says she once treated a woman who took the abortion pill while on a blood-thinner for another condition.

WOZNIAK: An Uber driver, who picked her up from Planned Parenthood, recognized she was too sick to be to be dropped off at home and dropped her back off at the hospital. That's where I encountered her.

Wozniak tried to report the complication, but she says the state rejected her report because the woman recovered.

Texas Dr. Ingrid Skop also submitted a declaration. She says she’s treated numerous cases of chemical abortion complications.

INGRID SKOP: There were a couple of women that did require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics because of infection. And that was quite concerning because they met the criteria for sepsis. There was one woman who bled significantly and required a blood transfusion.

Even though abortion is illegal in Texas, Skop still encounters women who legally obtain the drugs out-of-state. She remembers treating one woman who traveled to California to get them.

SKOP: Drove back, bled for almost two months every day. And she eventually came to the emergency room. And it turned out that she had dead tissue in her uterus for that entire two months period of time and required surgery.

While abortion pills always put the life of the baby at risk, these kinds of complications for the mother aren’t true of every chemical abortion.

AUDIO: [Protestors hanting]

Outside the court Tuesday, demonstrator Jess Jacobs says she experienced no complications during her chemical abortion in 2011.

JESS JACOBS: I felt super safe. I was able to do it in the comfort of my home. I had friends around me.

But, also outside the court is Elizabeth Gillette. She says she’s among the women the drug has harmed. She had a chemical abortion in 2010.

ELIZABETH GILLETTE: No one told me that it would be very dangerous, and I would have extreme side effects such as cramping, nausea, vomiting, extreme bleeding for over a month. I ended up on the bathroom floor in a pool of my own blood, vomiting, shaking.

Julie Marie Blake, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, says this case before the Supreme Court is about women like Elizabeth.

JULIE MARIE BLAKE: We're happy that not every woman undergoes the need for emergency surgeries, the blood transfusions that so many of these women have had. But I don't think that there really is many other places in American life, where we would be okay with a drug having a 1 in 25 risk on its own label, that a woman will end up in an emergency room.

If the Supreme Court determines the pro-life doctors in the case don’t have standing to sue the FDA, a group of pro-life states are waiting in the wings to continue the legal battle.

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Leah Savas. Additional reporting by Carolina Lumetta in Washington D.C.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


Please wait while we load the latest comments...