Quietly and behind the scenes, the abortion industry pushes a deadly product with every increasing frequency. While many read the headlines that an abortion industry think tank says the abortion rate has declined, chemical abortions occur more frequently every year.
In fact, in a recent report, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute estimated that chemical abortion accounts for 23 percent of all abortions—an increase from 2008, when chemical abortion accounted for 17 percent.
States have an interest in protecting maternal health through regulations on the provision of abortion-inducing drugs. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the drug manufacturer of RU-486 have acknowledged that abortion-inducing drugs pose health risks for women, including the risk of death. These risks are compounded by misuse in the abortion industry. While the FDA approved one specific protocol for the use of abortion-inducing drugs, abortion providers routinely flout that protocol and administer the drugs in ways unapproved by the FDA.
In 2011, the FDA reported that at least eight (8) women had died of bacterial infection following use of abortion-inducing drugs. Significantly, every one of these women used the drugs in a manner not approved by the FDA. To the contrary, the FDA has not (to date) received a single report of death from bacterial infection when the FDA protocol has been followed.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that states have an interest in protecting maternal health from the outset of pregnancy. Further, the Court has explicitly held that state and federal legislatures are given “wide discretion to pass legislation in areas where there is medical and scientific uncertainty.” In the context of chemical abortion, these holdings by the Supreme Court provide strong support for regulations requiring abortion providers to abide by the protocol approved by the FDA. Women’s lives are endangered by misuse of abortion-inducing drugs. Even if abortion proponents argue that their misuse is “safe,” courts are to give deference to states in regulating a potentially deadly abortion practice.
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While litigation—such as that in Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice v. Cline—made headlines in 2013, legislators should not be deterred. Though the Oklahoma Supreme Court—a court known to be liberal and activist—struck Oklahoma’s chemical abortion regulation in Cline— the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in a different case has ruled that Ohio’s chemical abortion regulation is not an “undue burden.” Similarly, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals appears poised to uphold Texas’ regulation in Planned Parenthood v. Abbott (currently pending). There is every reason to believe the Supreme Court will uphold such regulations when it ultimately considers the issue.
At this point, at least 14 states regulate the provision of abortion-inducing drugs to some degree, but only one state (Arizona) requires that drugs be administered only in the way approved by the FDA. States should act now to reign in an under-regulated abortion industry bent on placing profit above the health and welfare of women.