In the wake of pro-life legislation passing in states across the country, people nationwide are celebrating that some of our elected officials are now speaking up for the sanctity of life. While these new laws, such as the “Heartbeat Bills” passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio, are cause for some celebration; this is not the end of the road for abortion. While legislation passed to limit or ban abortions is helpful, it does little to guard against the growing popularity of medical abortions, especially as women turn to foreign online companies to purchase the necessary drugs. U.S. officials say there is little they can do to prevent these purchases.
If you don’t already know, a medical abortion, also referred to as the Abortion Pill, occurs in two main steps. The first step involves a pill containing the drug mifepristone, which a physician usually provides to the patient in his or her office. This pill stops the growth of the baby by causing the lining of the uterus to thin, making it impossible for the embryo to remain implanted. Either immediately, or up to 48 hours later, a second pill of misoprostol is taken. This pill induces the heavy cramping and bleeding hypothetically similar to a first trimester miscarriage, which passes the embryo through the birth canal. Seven days later the woman returns to her doctor to confirm the abortion was successful.
With the online purchases of medical abortions increasing, risk factors do as well. To begin with, women taking these online drugs have no proof of what is actually in the pills they receive. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has imposed strict rules on distribution and use of abortion pills, but state pharmaceutical regulators said they have no effective way of tracking and policing online orders from foreign doctors and pharmacies.” A spokesman from the FDA stated that the company’s concerns regarding the online purchases “because they bypass important safeguards designed to protect women’s health.” On top of that, the women purchasing these drugs don’t have any supervision or follow-up with physicians. So in the event of an unsuccessful medical abortion or bleeding that is too heavy, both of which can be life-threatening for the mother, these women won’t necessary have direct access to a doctor’s help.
The FDA has sent letters of warnings telling foreign doctors, such as Rebecca Gomperts of the Austrian-based online pharmacy AidAccess, which supplied at least 21,000 Americans with medical abortions from March 2018 to March 2019, to stop selling the Abortion Pill to American women. She, along with others the FDA reached out to, simply has ignored the letter and continues to supply the drugs.
With the medical abortion costing a fraction of a clinical abortion, and with it being easily accessible online, its popularity will only continue to grow in the wake of pro-life legislation. Americans who are passionate about the value of life are now tasked with the challenge of how to regulate these online purchases in order to prevent unlawful abortions without treading on the freedoms our country enjoys when it comes to accessing the internet and the right to privacy Currently the ability to regulate pharmacies outside of the US is impossible, leaving the perspectives grim.
The reality of access to medical abortions provides yet another reminder the injustice of abortion is not just a legal issue. Women are not merely waking up one day finding themselves inexplicably pregnant and seeking an abortion. As a whole, our educational, medical, social, political, and theological arenas are compromised through pseudo-science and people pleasing to avoid the obvious tragedy of over 60 million pre-born humans who have lost their lives through abortion. We recognize the intrinsic value of human beings as we all bear the image of God from the moment of fertilization, and so we have the responsibility to educate and engage these spheres to do better.
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