Womanhood, safety, and the unborn child: Chemical abortion dispensing questions at the Supreme Court reveal competing worldviews

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For the first time since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision, legal questions over abortion returned to the nation’s highest Court this morning.

At issue in today’s oral arguments in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) v. Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine (AHM): whether the FDA’s arbitrary decisions in 2016 and 2021 to drop safety measures governing the dispensing of the dangerous chemical abortion drug mifepristone violated federal law.

In this return to the Court in a post-Roe world, three points of debate inside and outside the Courtroom illustrate our culture’s ongoing divide over the significance of abortion in the lives of women.

First, while Justices spent considerable time querying lawyers over technical legal issues like standing, they also asked a surprising number of questions pertaining to the nature of the procedure at issue when doctors like those represented by the AHM may be required to provide emergency care for women suffering life-threatening hemorrhage and infection from chemical abortions.

Physicians object to the FDA’s reckless removal of in-person patient visits prior to the dispensing of mifepristone because of the shifting burden of care to hospital emergency rooms where doctors with a conscientious objection to abortion may be forced to complete a life-ending procedure (such as a D&C surgical abortion) in women experiencing serious complications.

Multiple Justices questioned how sincere such objections could be as they probed the nature of physicians’ complicity in an elective abortion, while Justice Elena Kagan pressed to know whether or not the “tissue” under discussion was really “live tissue.”  

Despite the euphemisms, even the most ardent abortion rights defenders on the Bench know the Court and our society have not reckoned fully with the nature of the unborn child and the moral significance of that child’s certain destruction in abortion.

Second, the where, when, and how drug dispensing questions before the Court reveal a larger departure from any consensus agreement on “safe” medical care for women. Gone is any focus on the inclusion of screening, education, and truly informed patient consent as important for basic medical practice.

The troubling history of mifepristone’s entrance into the U.S. market has been well-documented, but the FDA had pledged to manage known safety issues and clinical risks by tightly controlling the dispensing authorities, timing, and setting for this dangerous drug.

To hear the Administration’s lawyers now glibly discount the FDA’s own previous statements regarding the drug’s risks factors and necessary mitigations for those risks such as an in-person screening and assessment via ultrasound was a startling confirmation of the FDA’s abandonment of any focus on patient safety.

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At the boisterous rallies outside the Court, one online abortion pill vendor promoted their online sales of mifepristone in all 50 states alongside a remote-controlled robot seemingly ready to dispense mifepristone to the crowd. The image was stark: today’s abortion dispensing regime will be remote, impersonal, and incapable of caring for the woman as a whole person.

While physician after physician shared their concerns as pro-life practitioners with preserving even the most basic of safety measures for dispensing mifepristone, screaming abortion activists hoisted signs promoting its mass distribution and stockpiling. The FDA has fostered this pharmaceutical regime of unfettered access to chemical abortion drugs where sales matter more than safety.

Lastly, if a robot is a fitting image for the divorce between patient and provider that the FDA has orchestrated, it’s also an apt visual for how the leadership of the abortion industry seems to view the woman as machine-like during the abortion process. Her fertility is viewed as a reality to be controlled through long-distance chemical management, rather than as foundational to her womanhood requiring relational-based, in-person care and nurture.

In contrast to the abortion groups’ prioritization of mass mifepristone distribution as the apex for women’s well-being, dozens of pro-woman and pro-child organizations rallied outside the Court to share a message of personal concern for the woman considering chemical abortion. Amidst stories from women who have suffered from forced abortion, or who were misled about the reality of chemical abortion, or who changed their minds about abortion and pursued proven treatments like abortion pill reversal, a narrative of compassion and understanding for women’s real needs arose.

Heartbeat International proclaimed alongside these national partners that women deserve better. Women deserve education and the truth about dangerous drugs like mifepristone. They deserve access to information and physicians, not manipulation by an industry seeking to profit from another’s personal crisis.

Tweet This: Women deserve education and truth about dangerous drugs like mifepristone. They deserve access to info and physicians, not manipulation.

Most of all, they deserve truthful conversations about the harm abortion poses to them and their unborn child and a vision and resources for a better future that protects them both.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

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