Ted Cruz, Friends: If We Lie About Abortion Pill REAL BAD Can We Get FDA To Ban It?
Back in July, US District Judge Theodore Chuang ruled that, due to the pandemic, requiring an in-person doctor's visit to obtain the abortion pill created a "substantial obstacle" to a medication abortion, thus violating patients' constitutional rights.
This did not please a whole lot of anti-choice types, who were really hoping that the upside to a pandemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of people in the US would be that more women than usual would be forced to give birth against their will. Judge Chuang's decision clearly did not please Ted Cruz and his friends, who are now striking back.
Cruz, Joni Ernst, Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, James Inhofe and pretty much all of the other worst people in the Senate have signed on to a letter urging FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to respect their total lack of medical authority and classify Mifiprex as a dangerous pill and remove it from the market entirely.
Surely, they are all just doing this because they care about the safety of those seeking abortions and not just because they really don't want them to be able to have an abortion!
We wish to thank you for your steadfast leadership at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during this time of national uncertainty. We are especially proud of the FDA's defense of the safety of women and children as the abortion industry executes a multifront campaign to circumvent the FDA's statutory authority to regulate the highly dangerous abortion pill.1 However, given the devastating impact this drug has had on American women and children, we must now urge the FDA to exercise its authority under 21 CFR § 2.5 and classify the abortion pill as an "imminent hazard to the public health" that poses a "significant threat of danger" and remove this pill from the U.S. market.
Note how they keep saying "women and children" here. Are they concerned that young children will not be forced to go through with pregnancies they don't want? Probably not. Their concern is most likely fetus related.
The pill has not had a devastating impact on "American women and children." If it did, it would not just be forced birth enthusiasts complaining about it. Given that pretty much all of the signatories of this letter have been relatively chill about the number of people who have been killed by COVID-19, and that Cruz himself lobbied fiercely to allow churches to continue holding services despite the risk of spreading the virus — it seems as though their concern is not so much about health or safety as it is about forced birth.
First, we were encouraged by your efforts to stop the illegal trafficking of mail-order abortion pills into U.S. commerce by foreign companies like Aid Access and Rablon. Foreign pill traffickers have proliferated in recent years, defying FDA safety requirements, and placing the lives of women and children at serious risk. By openly violating FDA requirements, these foreign actors attempt to kick open the doors for sexual predators and men like Jeffrey Smith to obtain the pill for illegal purposes. You may be aware that Smith tried to slip abortion pills into his pregnant girlfriend's water bottle after illegally obtaining the pills from online seller [sic] named Ursula Wing.
Slipping pills into someone's drink, regardless of how they were obtained, is a crime. If I slipped a bunch of my legally obtained Ativan into someone's drink, I would be committing a crime. Especially if they died or something else bad happened to them. It would be possible to murder someone with practically every over-the-counter medicine in existence and several backyard plants. You could murder someone who has a peanut allergy with food secretly containing peanuts or peanut oil, a thing I have seen in multiple Lifetime movies. One could also go on the internet and purchase arsenic. There are myriad options, all of which I am going to stop researching right now because it's not gonna look good for me if someone around me keels over and this is my search history.
Why, just a couple weeks ago, Ben Carson, the MyPillow Guy and a bunch of other Republicans were pushing for the FDA to approve Oleandrin — the thing that makes oleander plants toxic — as a cure for COVID-19. You know what would be bad if you put it in someone's drink without them knowing? Oleander. Also if you did it with them knowing, because of how it is a poison.
You know what creates a market for people to sell abortion pills illegally online? Anti-choice laws that make it difficult to obtain them lawfully from a medical professional. If anything, the fact that there is a market for this is proof that anti-choice laws do not prevent abortions, but that they only prevent safe abortions. People aren't just gonna go, "Oh well, I guess I'll just have this baby then." They will find a way, and that way may sometimes be safe, but it often may not be.
Second, we strongly support your zealous fight against the abortion industry's scheme to bypass the FDA's statutory authority to protect the health and safety of all Americans, by using the Coronavirus (COVID-19) threat as a ruse to eliminate the Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS). On July 13, 2020, a federal judge sided with these groups, and suspended the REMS in person requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that this rogue judicial activism is a gross breach of the separation of powers, undermining the FDA's statutory authority to ensure drug safety, while recklessly endangering American women and children. The FDA must resist this opportunistic ploy to expand access to abortion under the fallacy that the REMS imposes an undue burden on women's rights.
Except that it does. If it would be less safe to go to a doctor's office to obtain the pills, it is an undue burden. Forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term against their will is an "undue burden."
It is telling that, under the REMS, an abortion pill prescriber must guarantee his competence to properly date a pregnancy, and to provide or arrange for "surgical intervention" in case the pill fails, or in case the woman needs emergency intervention. Women will sign a Patient Agreement which reads: "If I need a surgical procedure because the medicines did not end my pregnancy or to stop heavy bleeding, my healthcare provider has told me whether they will do the procedure or refer me to another healthcare provider who will." Prescribers also must be capable of diagnosing ectopic pregnancies—a serious condition if not properly diagnosed, and a leading cause of maternal death.
Interesting that they should bring up ectopic pregnancies, when anti-choicers have been arguing for years that if women just ignore an ectopic pregnancy, everything will be fine and the embryos will just reimplant in the fallopian tubes.
Also, everything that is accomplished with REMS can also be accomplished without it. Because emergency rooms exist.
According to FDA reporting, the abortion pill has taken more than 3.7 million preborn lives, caused 24 maternal deaths, and resulted in at least 4,195 adverse maternal reactions including hemorrhage, excruciating abdominal pain, and severe life-threatening infections. Of course, adverse events are notoriously underreported, which makes the true number impossible to assess.
So, first of all, the whole purpose of the abortion pill is to abort babies, so that first point is moot. Of the "24 deaths" that have occurred since 2000, most of them have absolutely nothing to do with the abortion pill.
In the FDA's full report on the 24 deaths, linked in the FAQ, many of the deaths seem obviously unrelated to medical abortion, including two homicides, one natural death from pulmonary emphysema, and one overdose on methadone, a prescription opioid. In a brief published in April, ANSIRH, Grossman's group, estimated that 13 of those deaths were "probably or possibly related to the abortion." The rest "appear to be unrelated to the abortion."
Even if that were the case, 24 deaths in 20 years is not a lot. I can find studies that say that Wellbutrin, a medication I am currently taking, caused 19 deaths in the span of three years. For pretty much any medication one can name, there are a number of deaths attributed to it. Also, as of today, 190,222 have died, just in the US, from COVID-19, and these people do not seem all that worried about that.
Twenty-four is especially not a lot when compared with the fact that the United States has a maternal mortality rate of 26.4 per 100,000 live births — which, when compared to rates like 9.2 in the U.K, 7.3 in Canada, 4.2 in Italy, and 3.8 in Finland, is not very good. At all!
People are 14 times more likely to die from giving birth as they are from an abortion. From any kind of abortion.
Perhaps if Ted Cruz and friends are so concerned about women's health — hell, if they were so concerned about the fetuses they claim to adore so much — they could do something about that. Like, I don't know, supporting Medicare For All so it doesn't cost people a bajillion dollars to give birth, get prenatal testing, or get an ambulance if something goes wrong.
While we support the FDA's continued fight to defend the REMS, to monitor dangerous clinical studies, and to shut down illegal websites, these measures alone fail to protect the thousands of women harmed even by compliant usage of this drug – or the millions of children killed. To protect vulnerable women and children, we strongly urge the FDA to remove this deadly drug from the U.S. market and exercise its authority under 21 CFR § 2.5, declaring it an "imminent hazard to public health."
It says a lot about the faith Cruz and the others have in their own cause that they feel they have to resort to this kind of sneaky bullshit to achieve their aims. Absolutely no one, including Ted Cruz, is buying that this is just about how deeply they care about "women's health." Hell, he couldn't even get through the letter without talking about "unborn babies." They know that they're not going to get the abortion pill off the market, or get people to stop having abortions, simply by saying, "We think abortion is bad and should not be allowed" and so they have to try and couch it in "women's health and safety" and hope that people will buy their bullshit.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse