Using imprecise medical arguments, Senator Ted Cruz and a group of other Republican politicians petition the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to classify the abortion pill (also known as mifepristone and under the brand name Mifeprex) as “dangerous” – and take it off the market.
“Pregnancy is not a life-threatening disease, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent disease. Make no mistake, Mifeprex is a dangerous pill. So 20 of my Republican colleagues and I are asking @US_FDA to classify it as such, ”Cruz wrote on Twitter earlier this week. Cruz announced that the group wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD asking the FDA to ban the drug.
“We must now call on the FDA to exercise its authority … and identify the abortion pill as an”
For a small background, mifepristone is a pill that is used to end pregnancies after 10 weeks or sooner, SELF previously explained. The drug, also known as Mifeprex and RU-486, blocks progesterone receptors. This prevents progesterone from keeping the lining of the uterus thick, and without it the pregnancy cannot proceed. Typically, according to the Guttmacher Institute, mifepristone is regulated as part of a Risk Assessment and Reduction Strategy (REMS) that requires patients to take the pill with a medical care provider based in 18 states. 24-48 hours later, the patient takes a second pill (misoprostol) to aid in the termination process.
The letters come after a federal judge ruled in July that patients could get the pill in the mail due to the current pandemic, PBS reported. However, experts have been calling on the FDA for years to relax REMS restrictions, arguing that they make it unnecessarily difficult for people to access the drugs. Amid the current pandemic, in-person visits to offices or clinics can be particularly difficult, and in some cases less safe, than a visit to telemedicine as they bring the possibility of exposure to the coronavirus. The pandemic has also seen an embrace of telemedicine that makes the personal requirement to receive mifepristone even more ridiculous.
Research also shows that aborting medication accessed via telemedicine is no less secure than abortion that requires a personal visit. That’s not particularly surprising considering that mifepristone is a relatively safe drug. Like any drug, it has some short-term side effects, such as bleeding, cramping, and nausea, SELF previously reported. However, these can often be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may also offer you prescription nausea medication.
On the other hand, contrary to Cruz’s claim, we know that pregnancy and childbirth in the US can be fatal – especially for black women. For every 100,000 live births in the US, there are 17.4 maternal deaths according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data in 2018. However, for black women it is 37.1. Research has shown that Cruz’s state of Texas has one of the most severely affected maternal mortality rates in the country.
In rare (but not uncommon) cases, pregnant people are at risk of serious complications during childbirth, such as bleeding, sepsis, and blood clots, explains the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Even if pregnancy is not fatal, it can still cause serious health complications, including anemia, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental illness (which in certain circumstances can be life-threatening).