Alliance Defending Freedom Takes On The FDA Over Chemical Abortion Pill

Attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom, representing four medical groups and four doctors experienced in caring for pregnant and post-abortive women, were successful in obtaining a stay on the FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs in a ruling made by a lower court on April 14. 

The lawsuit, Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, filed by ADF on behalf of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Pediatricians, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, and doctors Shaun Jester, Regina Frost-Clark, Tyler Johnson, and George Delgado, argued that the FDA had illegally approved dangerous chemical abortion drugs that harm women and girls.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Erik Baptist, who argued before the court on March 15, said that The FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs over 20 years ago has always stood on “shaky legal and moral ground.”

The lawsuit contends that in 2000, the FDA prioritized politics over science by advocating for the legalization of mifepristone and misoprostol for chemical abortions. To achieve approval, the FDA classified pregnancy as an “illness” and claimed that the drugs offered a “meaningful therapeutic benefit.” The medical groups and doctors involved in the lawsuit said that the FDA’s approval of chemical abortion drugs violated its legal responsibility to safeguard the health, safety, and well-being of women and girls.

Alliance Defending Freedom lawyers argued that pregnancy is not an illness and that chemical abortion drugs do not provide therapeutic benefits. Additionally, the drugs can cause serious and life-threatening complications for mothers and ultimately end a baby’s life. 

The lawsuit claimed that the FDA never studied the safety of the drugs under the labeled conditions of use, ignored the potential impacts of the hormone-blocking regimen on the developing bodies of adolescent girls, and disregarded the substantial evidence that chemical abortion drugs cause more complications than surgical abortions. The lawsuit also alleged that the FDA removed safeguards that were in place, such as extending the permissible gestational age for taking the drugs and reducing the number of required in-person office visits.

In addition to changing the dosage and administration method, reducing office visits, and expanding prescribers, the FDA also made the decision to allow chemical abortion drugs to be sent through the mail in 2021, which violates federal law and puts women and girls at risk by skipping necessary medical examinations that could detect conditions leading to fatal outcomes.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has now upheld most of the federal district court order to restore safeguards to chemical abortion drugs, including prohibiting their distribution through the mail, reinstating necessary doctor visits, reducing the permissible gestational age from 10 weeks to 7 weeks, and bringing back the requirement that abortionists must check women for complications after their chemical abortions.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice and Danco Laboratories, the primary distributor of chemical abortion drugs, requested an emergency order from the Supreme Court to temporarily stop the federal district court’s decision, which the Court granted.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Erik Baptist said that pausing the lower court’s order and maintaining the status quo while the lawsuit proceeds is standard operating procedure whenever the Supreme Court is asked to consider an emergency request like this one. With the stay, the lawsuit returns to the 5th Circuit for a ruling on the merits. A hearing is scheduled for May 17. 

Alliance Defending Freedom is the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life. 

As part of its mission to protect unborn life, ADF has taken legal action in numerous cases against Planned Parenthood and is working with several state legislatures to protect the rights of healthcare workers and pro-life advocates. ADF also helped draft the bill that resulted in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which led to the eventual overturning of Roe v. Wade

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