By Erin DeGregorio and Currents News Staff
WINDSOR TERRACE — The chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities described a recent FDA decision to stop enforcing the “in-person dispensing requirement” for the abortion pill as “dangerous.”
In an April 19 interview with Currents News, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, expressed concerns with the FDA’s decision, saying women will be put at risk due to reduced medical precautions.
“This whole idea of trying to do this through the mail, without any kind of medical supervision, is very, very dangerous to women,” Archbishop Naumann said. “There are certain things that they can’t really check for themselves like how far along the pregnancy is — because that has a significant impact on safety — [and] also if there’s an Rh incompatibility with the child.”
“These are things that doctors need to check for the health of the women.”
On April 12, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced the agency will no longer be enforcing the “in-person dispensing requirement” for the chemical abortion drug mifepristone during the remainder of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Medication abortion is currently approved for use up to 10 weeks of gestational age.
The FDA will temporarily allow clinics to distribute the drug via telemedicine, directly by mail, or through a mail-order pharmacy. After a woman has a virtual visit with a doctor through telemedicine, the abortion pill can be prescribed remotely and mailed to women who could then terminate their pregnancy at home.
Though 19 states have policies that restrict telemedicine for medication abortion — which will remain in effect — health experts hope this rule change for the other states will become permanent and expand access to abortion care.
With that in mind, Archbishop Naumann believes the Catholic community has to be present to surround these women with love and support.
“We have to ramp up our efforts to surround women with the support that they need to do what’s really in their heart, which is to choose life for their child,” he said. “Women are hurt, oftentimes physically, emotionally, and certainly spiritually by every abortion.”
“It’s a very difficult process for the woman, and to undergo this alone is unconscionable,” Archbishop Naumann added, “but it exposes [how] the abortion industry really doesn’t care about the health of women.”
The in-person dispensing requirement was originally put in place by public health officials over twenty years ago, under President Bill Clinton, as a necessary precondition to ensure that pregnant women do not have contraindications that would make abortion pills even more unsafe and possibly deadly for the woman.
According to Danco Laboratories, over 2.75 million women in the United States have used Mifeprex, the brand name for mifepristone, between its FDA approval in 2000 and 2016.