It should come as no shock that when all safety standards for high-risk drugs are removed, the public suffers.

Nowhere are we seeing this difficult truth more clearly than with the FDA’s reckless liberalization of the mail-order abortion drug regimen. Important medical safeguards established long ago for use of misoprostol and mifepristone as abortifacients have been steadily rolled back for years.

The FDA is responsible for ushering in a horrific new abortion world for vulnerable women and their children—a world where they are more isolated from care, a world where they have no “choice,” a world where they are abandoned to their abusers. Worst of all, this is accomplished under the guise of reproductive “freedom.”

We refuse to turn a blind eye to the women and children left suffering at the hands of their abusers. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to right this wrong by requiring the FDA to do its job and reinstate these basic protections. We are imploring the court to do so, for the sake of vulnerable women and children everywhere.

Beginning in 2016, the FDA waived the requirements that abortion pills be prescribed and administered by a physician with an in-person follow-up appointment. In 2021, the agency did away with the requirement that the pills be dispensed in-person, allowing for mail-order abortions on a mass scale.

Now, most anyone can have the high-risk abortion drugs delivered to their front door without seeing a doctor—leaving women more isolated and alone than ever before.

Predictably, abusers and human traffickers are taking increasing advantage of mail-order abortion by smuggling these deadly drugs.  And because the FDA removed all intervention opportunities for their victims, women and girls are experiencing unprecedented forced abortions under this new abortion landscape.

The news is replete with stories of criminal convictions of men who poisoned their pregnant partners and children with mail-order abortion drugs. While forced abortions happened long before the FDA liberalized the abortion pill regimen, removing in-person medical care before obtaining abortion pills enables and perpetuates abuse against women and girls.

A physician spiked his girlfriend’s tea with an abortion pill; a fertility doctor’s son forged a prescription for misoprostol, convinced his girlfriend it was an antibiotic, and duped her into aborting their six-week-old child. A Texas attorney tried to poison his pregnant, estranged wife with a cocktail containing misoprostol no less than seven times. A California woman’s ex-boyfriend broke into her home, put a gun to her head, and forced her to take the abortion pills as she was 12 weeks pregnant.

Men have tried to spike water, drinks, pancakes, and smoothies to induce abortions. There have been plenty of other reports of men using drugs to force abortions in a variety of ways.

We also know that forced abortions have been used by sex traffickers against their victims, but the FDA’s recklessness enables this abuse more than ever. One trafficked woman reported having undergone as many as 17 abortions, some forced. In one case involving at least 20 trafficked Mexican women who were confined in locations in Florida and South Carolina, prosecutors reported that many were forced to have abortions.

Removing safeguards around abortion pill dispensation removes the crucial intervention points for women. It sets vulnerable women even further outside the reach of those who might help them and their unborn child. And it isolates them alone with their abusers who use the FDA’s callous regime to perpetuate their abuse.

And now that safeguards have been removed, women are also victims of abortion pills in other ways.

The FDA’s original safeguards were implemented to ensure that women seeking abortion confirmed their child’s gestational age, discovered ectopic pregnancies, and received information on the risks and side effects of chemical abortion. Although these regulations did little to protect the silent victims of abortion drugs whose lives were snuffed out in the womb, they at least helped protect their mothers from medical complications or coerced abortions.  

The risks are serious. The FDA’s own label for mifepristone reports a 1-in-25 hospitalization rate for chemical abortions. And one study – cited by the FDA – showed that 1 in 8 women who received abortion drugs through the mail via telemedicine, and who did not receive a pre-abortion ultrasound or pelvic exam, required unplanned medical care following their chemical abortion.

We know that women have been left in the dark by abortion providers as to the pain or trauma they would experience. Women have called Human Coalition’s pregnancy centers panicking, saying they were not warned about the painful side effects of the abortion pill regimen: “I had no idea that the pill was going to be as painful as it was;” “I bled way more than I was told.”

They also say they were not prepared in the slightest for the trauma they would experience upon seeing the remains of their child. “I saw the baby come out in the toilet….no one told me I would see a baby. I didn’t know what to do.”

Thanks to the FDA, women are more isolated than ever and may never see a doctor in the entire process.

Many Americans agree with these common sense protections that the FDA tossed aside in recent years. In a recent survey of likely voters in swing states of Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, nearly eight-in-ten respondents (78%) said that “Women and girls should have the ongoing care of a doctor when taking high-risk drugs.” Three-fourths of respondents also said that “No young girl should have an abortion all alone, without medical assistance or even an in-person visit with a doctor.”

We speak out for the silent victims of chemical abortions who need our protection. They need our help instead of us turning a blind eye to the crimes they suffer. They need the Supreme Court to intervene for them – when the FDA systematically refuses to – against an abortion regime that props up abuse and exploitation.

Chelsey Youman is the National Director of Public Policy for Human Coalition, a pro-life organization that operates a network of telecare and brick-and-mortar clinics for women across the nation.

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