How FDA Keeps Safe Birth Control Options From Women

By Donald A. Collins | 5 August 2019
Church and State

Fortunately I have a lady MD family member who lives in San Francisco who emailed me an outstanding but very troubling Opinion piece in the Sunday, August 4, 2019 NY Times entitled “Abortion Pills Should Be Everywhere” by Farhold Manjoo, a male opinion columnist who did an outstanding job of proving that ideology is the modus vivendi at FDA.

As a founding board member of Ipas in the early 1970’s, I have hoped for years to see non-surgical abortion methods which Ipas helped pioneer advanced significantly by the availability of medical abortions which the 2 pill combo now offers.

You can read this sterling investigative NY Times report for yourself by going to the prompt below, but here are a few major points underlining his thesis that FDA has arbitrarily impeded a well proven, safe way for women to do very early medical abortions in the privacy of their own homes.

Mr. Manjoo begins by saying, “One afternoon about a year ago, just as the Senate began considering Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, I logged on to Day Night Healthcare, an online pharmacy based in India, and ordered a pack of abortion pills. A few hours later, I got a call from a Day Night customer-service agent with a warning. If my credit-card company called to ask about the purchase, ‘tell them you approve the charge, but don’t say what it’s for,’ the man advised. ‘If they ask, say it’s gym equipment, or something like that.’”

Nothing came of this threat and Manjoo’s then notes, “The drugs, which have been used by tens of millions of women around the world, are also some of the safest known to modern medicine — mifepristone has accumulated a record of adverse complications lower than that of Tylenol, Flonase, Xanax and Viagra. In 2017, Canadian regulators lifted most restrictions on the drug, allowing it to be prescribed by any doctor, without requiring an ultrasound, and dispensed in any pharmacy.”

Clearly, enforcement by the FDA will not be effective. As Manjoo tells us,

But in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has imposed severe limits on mifepristone’s distribution. It can be prescribed only by doctors who meet certain qualifications, and can be dispensed only in clinics licensed to provide abortions, not retail pharmacies.

Yet thanks to the digital handiwork of an emerging faction within the global reproductive-rights movement, restrictions on abortion pills are becoming increasingly difficult to enforce. Despite the F.D.A.’s restrictions, activists have created a robust online market that makes getting pills surprisingly easy. There are “report cards” on where to find tested drugs, detailed guides on how to use them safely, a help line for consulting with legal experts, and dozens of discussion boards and support groups helping women navigate the fraught decision of whether and how to terminate a pregnancy.

Amid growing restrictions on clinic-based abortions, the online pill market functions as a haven of last resort for desperate women. “The women who come to us don’t have any other alternatives,” said Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician and founder of Aid Access, which offers abortion pills online for about $90, with discounts for patients in financial straits. “They don’t have funds, or they are six hours away from the clinic, or they don’t have transport, they have small kids, they live in cars, there are situations of domestic violence — it’s just really bad situations.” In 2018, Gomperts prescribed the drug online to 2,581 patients.

This FDA attitude really resonated with me as an organization I founded International Services Assistance Fund (ISAF) began trying to get a safe, non-surgical method of female sterilization called QS or quinacrine sterilization approved for a Phase III trial. After years of scientific submissions by top experts, the FDA declined to allow a Phase III US trial in December 2016. You can judge whether the same ideological spin was behind its decision only by a review of ISAF’s web site, which is now available here.

However, the historical record of QS use shows it is safer than Viagra. QS administered by using the inserter method has caused no deaths and no life-threatening complications after use for over 40 years by over 200,000 women located in over 50 countries around the world. And yet, the request from ISAF to perform a Phase III trial of QS was denied in spite of the science showing QS does not cause cancer or any serious complications.

If available around the world QS could offer millions of women the option of ending childbirths permanently at an economical cost. Again the FDA’s action in denying even a Phase III trial is highly suspect and we feel it has been proven wrong by the research you can view on the QS site. FDA’s actions in trying to stop making safe medical abortions more accessible simply underlines the point made here on QS.

Former US Navy officer, banker and venture capitalist, Donald A. Collins, a free lance writer living in Washington, DC., has spent over 40 years working for women’s reproductive health as a board member and/or officer of numerous family planning organizations including Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Guttmacher Institute, Family Health International and Ipas. Yale under graduate, NYU MBA. He is the author of From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013.

From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013

By Donald A. Collins
Publisher: Church and State Press (July 30, 2014)
ASIN: B00MA40TVE
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