A European doctor who provides abortion pills by mail to the United States is defying an order from the US Food and Drug Administration to stop.”It is very important to continue … because it is the only safe abortion alternative for some of the most vulnerable people,” Dr. Rebecca Gomperts said in an emailed statement. “As a physician, I have the obligation to provide medical care to people in need.”
A letter drawn up by Gomperts’ attorney was sent to the FDA late last week, offering a formal response to the federal agency, which had asked the doctor in March to “immediately cease causing the introduction of these violative drugs into U.S. Commerce.” The FDA said in its warning letter, “the sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products.” But Gomperts called concerns about the medications she prescribes “totally unfounded” and said the FDA’s restrictive handling of abortion medication is “based on politics, not science.”
Dr. Richard Hearn, a longtime physician-turned-attorney in Pocatello, Idaho, is representing Gomperts. He argued in his letter to the FDA that the agency is overstepping its role in going after a doctor, targeting the distribution of this medication while ignoring other drugs purchased online, including Viagra, and disregarding the proven safety of this early-stage abortion method. “The effect, if not the purpose,” of the warning and restrictions is to “place a substantial burden in the path of U.S. women” who’ve “been forced to attempt to exercise their right to a medical abortion by way of the internet,” he wrote.
Included with Hearn’s letter was a 12-page list of 145 notes sent to Gomperts.”It was assault, I’m homeless and trying to get off the street,” one woman wrote. “I can’t afford to get set back anymore. I can’t do this and I don’t want to. … I want it to be over ASAP so please help me.”
“The father had taken off the condom without informing me,” wrote another woman, who said in her thank you note that she lives in the Bible Belt and worried that her family would shun her. “There’s no way I could have gotten to the local clinic. Abortions are only available on a few days a week, and they’re always at times I work. I also don’t drive, so discreetly visiting the clinic wasn’t an option.”
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[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jessica Ravitz and originally published at CNN. Title changed by P&P.]
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