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These abortion companies openly ignore FDA safeguards

Mail-order websites instruct women how to abort their babies after 10 weeks of gestation


Ultrasound of a baby at 12 weeks gestation September15/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

These abortion companies openly ignore FDA safeguards

About 12 weeks into her pregnancy, Megan Gibson ordered abortion pills online and had them shipped to her home in Oklahoma. But it wasn’t because she wanted to abort her baby. Gibson opposes abortion. Before abortion facilities closed down in her state, she stood on the sidewalk to share the gospel and offer help to women who came to the centers. She ordered the pills last summer as a part of a project she was working on with other like-minded activists—to see how easy it would be.

And it was easy. Oklahoma law prohibits abortion at any stage of pregnancy, although it precludes women from punishment for self-managed abortions. Nationally, the abortion drug mifepristone has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval for use in at-home chemical abortions but only until 10 weeks of pregnancy. Gibson was about two weeks past that limit.

Gibson said both sets of pills arrived in about a week. “I didn’t even have to leave my house,” she recalled later.

Despite the increased risks to the mother of later chemical abortions and the continued, direct threat to the unborn child, pro-abortion groups do not hide the fact that they support at-home abortions past the FDA’s approved limit. Gibson’s experience and the experiences of pro-life pregnancy center organizations show that some companies are also willing to facilitate those abortions—and that more and more women are taking them up on it.

According to data from the U.K. government, while the rate of complications for the woman who undergoes a chemical abortion in early pregnancy is only 0.3 per 1,000 abortions, that number jumps to a rate of about 6 out of 1,000 for chemical abortions from 10 to 12 weeks. For chemical abortions from 13 to 19 weeks, the rate is over 30 complications per 1,000 abortions and, at 20 weeks and more, the rate is nearly 50 out of every 1,000 abortions. The U.K. National Health Service also reports that 13 percent of women who undergo chemical abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy will need a surgical abortion to remove remaining parts of the dead baby and placenta—which, if allowed to stay inside of the woman’s body, can lead to infection.

Gibson ordered separate sets of pills from two different organizations. Through the group AccessMA, she was able to order pills completely free of charge. According to an email Gibson received from AccessMA, obtained by WORLD, the organization required no sort of pregnancy confirmation except for an estimate of how far along the baby was. It didn’t even require Gibson to share her name—just initials. She said she told them 12 weeks and that no one called her to vet her request.

The other set of pills cost $150. That site, the European group Aid Access, required her to email a copy of her ID. It also requested a photo of the ultrasound but added she could just say how far along the staff at the facility where she had a sonogram said she was if she did not get a photo. “Ignore this step if you didn’t have an ultrasound,” added the email Gibson received from Aid Access, shared with WORLD.

Three days later, she received another email from Aid Access outlining instructions for how to take the pills. One section included steps for women 12 weeks pregnant or less. Another included instructions for how to take the pills past 12 weeks. That section advised taking a minimum of six misoprostol pills, totaling 1200 mcg, over a span of several hours. The FDA-approved abortion pill regimen prescribes only 800 mcg of misoprostol.

WORLD obtained a copy of the Aid Access instruction email that Gibson received. Warning: It contains graphic descriptions of drug-induced abortion procedures.

Within days, both sets of pills arrived. One came in a yellow bubble mailer with a handwritten label—the pills inside in silver blister packs. Aid Access’ package was a white mailer with a printed label. It contained one small box of pills, a small bottle of pills, and printed instructions on how to take them.

Gibson said both groups’ willingness to send her pills past the FDA’s limit didn’t come as a surprise. “These are people and companies EAGER to provide the means to murder someone,” she wrote in a text message. “So much so, that they won’t let a little thing like the FDA get in their way.”

Aid Access has a history of flouting the U.S. government. In 2019, the FDA under former President Donald Trump sent a warning letter to Aid Access for sending U.S. women an unapproved version of the drug mifepristone. At the time, Aid Access founder Rebecca Gomperts told news outlets she would not comply with the warning, and a response letter from her lawyer made a similar promise. Today, Aid Access advertises that U.S. abortionists prescribe and mail the pills. The FDA did not respond by the time of publication to WORLD’s questions about whether the department was aware of online sellers sending abortion pills to women past the approved limit and if it planned to take any action in response.

Healthcare providers in the United States generally have the freedom to prescribe drugs “off-label” for reasons outside of the FDA-approved list of indications. The FDA’s main focus is regulating food and drug manufacturers, not medical professionals.

“Abortion providers advertising and providing abortions past the FDA cutoff is a brazen demonstration of their priority in promoting the death of the unborn over the health and safety of the woman,” said Dr. Ingrid Skop, vice president and director of medical affairs for the Charlotte Lozier Institute. She added that their off-label use of the drugs “is probably not illegal, just immoral.”

Skop said a later chemical abortion or induction of labor performed for medical reasons “necessarily occurs in a hospital.” That way, if one of these complications occurs, the woman will be in a setting where she can get immediate medical attention. The danger to the woman increases when she is at home and unsupervised.

According to a June article from the left-leaning news outlet Vox, Gomperts said her organization does not prescribe abortion pills to women who say they are past 11 weeks gestation. But Plan C, an online directory of abortion pill sellers, lists Aid Access and other organizations as making pills available “for pregnancies up to 13 weeks.” Aid Access’ online order form does not allow website users who select an option saying they are “more than 12 weeks” pregnant to continue with the ordering process. Users can easily switch their selection to “3 to 12 weeks” pregnant, and they also receive instructions on how to take the pills after 12 weeks of gestation. Aid Access did not respond to two inquiries from WORLD asking whether it still maintains the policy it described to Vox.

Reports from staff at pro-life pregnancy centers who have interacted with women ordering pills online show that Gibson’s experience receiving the pills isn’t isolated.

In January, the medical impact team at the national pregnancy center organization Heartbeat International released a report outlining abortion trends they’ve noticed among callers to their Abortion Pill Rescue Network in recent years. According to the report, the network has seen an increase in women obtaining abortion pills online and a rise in the number of callers who say they are taking the abortion pill beyond 10 weeks gestation. In the meantime, the percentage of women who told the network they received an ultrasound to confirm their babies’ gestational ages has decreased.

In July, director Brittany Green of the Radiance Women’s Center outside of Austin, Texas, told WORLD about a client who came into the center to get an ultrasound so she could find out what dosage of the drug she should take. Green said the woman showed her the email she had received from Aid Access, including the instructions for chemical abortions after 12 weeks.

“Why are women being told, ‘If you’re over 12 weeks gestation, the pill is safe’? Because, to our knowledge, the pill is really intended for no further than 10 weeks gestation,” Green said at the time. “So that’s concerning, because there’s no oversight on how many pills they’re taking and when they’re taking them, if they’re taking them the way they’re directed.”

But even though the Aid Access online order form notes the risks of chemical abortion for users who say they are past 12 weeks gestation, it adds that using abortion pills after this stage of pregnancy is “still very safe and very effective.”

To Gibson, the business of groups like Aid Access is just as inhumane regardless of how far along in a pregnancy they prescribe the abortion pills. “Every single abortion puts someone at risk for being murdered,” Gibson said. “So 10 weeks or 12 weeks, it makes no difference to the person being murdered.”


Leah Savas

Leah is the life beat reporter for WORLD News Group. She is a graduate of Hillsdale College and the World Journalism Institute and resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., with her husband, Stephen.

@leahsavas


I so appreciate the fly-over picture, and the reminder of God’s faithful sovereignty. —Celina

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