"[The blood] -- it looked like I was sitting in the middle of a crime scene. This couldn't be normal. Planned Parenthood didn't ever tell me this could happen.... I decided that I would call them in the morning... if I didn't die before then." -- Abby, 23
Abby lived. In fact, she went on to become one of the most effective pro-life activists in the movement: Abby Johnson. Like a lot of women, she thought taking the abortion pill would be the easy way out. She was wrong. Her nightmare -- of gushing blood and excruciating pain, of clumps passing out of her body while she cried and sweated alone -- is the story of tens of thousands of women. She vowed, right then and there, that when she went back to work at Planned Parenthood afterward, she would do everything in her power to stop a patient from choosing a medication abortion. "I didn't want anyone to experience what I had..."
But Planned Parenthood didn't care about the horrors. They cared about the dollars. And chemical abortions were a good way to make a fast buck. So as they pushed this option at their clinics, Abby pushed back. She told her clients about the risks. She told them about the terrifying 12 hours she spent, lying on the bathroom floor. "I had seen too many women... hurt by this 'natural' abortion method. There was nothing natural about it." Then, one day at a management meeting, she spoke up. Why weren't they telling women what really happened? "Well, we don't want to scare them," her supervisor said. "Oh, like they're scared when they think they are dying from the amount of blood they are losing because we choose not to tell them that is supposedly normal," she fired back.
As dangerous as chemical abortions were then, they're even more lethal now. With the explosion of the online pill market, tens of thousands of American women are bypassing clinics altogether, ordering drugs from the internet without a single assurance that they're safe or even what's advertised. India's back-alley pharmacy is booming, flooding mailboxes in the U.S. with packs of pills to end pregnancies that no one has even verified.
Making matters worse, new "charities" are popping up all over the country -- groups like AidAccess, Rablon, and others -- who are offering to "consult" with women who want to keep their chemical abortions quiet. But as pro-lifers have discovered by testing the websites, most users don't interact with a single doctor. They just check a few boxes, agree not to sue for adverse effects, and wait for the mifepristone and misoprostol (if that's what India is actually sending) to land on their doorstep. The whole system is illegal. But more importantly, it's a dangerous gamble with real human lives.
Trump's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned these organizations to back down, reminding them that the sale of "misbranded and unapproved drugs" is criminal. Not to mention, experts point out, they could be fake or contaminated. There's also no way to prove that the people buying these pills are women. They could be sex traffickers, rapists, or, angry boyfriends lacing drinks with RU-486 because they don't want their unborn child.
For now, Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, the activist behind AidAccess, isn't a bit deterred. If anything, she's even more defiant, daring the United States to intervene. She even brags on her website about being targeted by the FDA, insisting that her drug ring will go on no matter what pressure the government brings.
But even Gomperts will have a tough time keeping her racket going if she doesn't have a website to run it through. Earlier this week, that's the solution pro-life leaders suggested to the FDA. Taking a page out of the government's playbook for dealing with opioid sellers and pornographers, groups like FRC are asking for a new approach to lawbreakers like Gomperts: seizing their web domains. It's time for Commissioner Stephen Hahn to take more drastic action and shut down the online dealers of RU-486. In a letter to the agency, a coalition of 56 organizations insist, "[America's] safeguards are meaningless... if opportunistic entities can sell abortion-inducing drugs over the internet with impunity. We urge the FDA to act now to stop this predatory and dangerous practice."
Chemical abortion is brutal, bloody, traumatic process that no one -- even under the best of circumstances -- is prepared for. The effects can last for weeks. The complications, for a lifetime. The last thing the world needs is people making an already treacherous option more available. "Looking back," Abby says, "I wasn't given a 'choice,'" because no one told her the truth. It's time to tell that truth now -- and use every avenue to stop the ones who won't.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.