Planned Parenthood is directing its patients to a service that guides women through the process of illegally importing abortion drugs into the United States. The information is communicated prominently on a landing page that links from the front page of the organization’s website. It’s all part of a broader plan by abortion activists to use the illegal trade of drugs like mifepristone and misoprostol to provide abortions in states where abortion will be banned if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
This is a new low for Planned Parenthood. By providing patients this information, the taxpayer-funded organization is helping women to violate federal law, as it is illegal to introduce unapproved drugs into interstate commerce and to buy prescription drugs without a prescription.
Moreover, directing women to this service also encourages women to violate laws in 19 states that prohibit receiving a medication abortion through telemedicine as well as laws in five states that prohibit self-managed abortions. Planned Parenthood explicitly tells its patients on its website that it can be “safe and effective” to “self-manage” an abortion.
Planned Parenthood is also helping women dodge the FDA’s requirements for the dispensation of medication abortion, known as the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), by pointing them to the service. The strategy is strictly adhered to in the United States because over 1,000 women in the U.S. have been hospitalized and 24 women have died after receiving a medication abortion since the year 2000. Illegal methods of obtaining the drugs do not follow the REMS. A 2019 study examining Indian drug sellers’ trade of abortion medicines found that only 35 percent of sellers dispensing misoprostol provided patients with the correct dosage and timing information and that 31 percent failed to tell customers about any side effects of the drugs.
Planned Parenthood directs women to the information at the top of its homepage under the title “Abortion is legal. It’s still your right.”
The post says, “While self-managed abortion hasn’t been studied as much, there are safe and effective ways to self-manage abortion with pills. However, in the U.S. it’s illegal to give or get the abortion pills without a prescription. There are potential legal risks to buying abortion pills outside of the health care system. Plan C* has more information about the difference between getting an abortion from a doctor or nurse, like the staff at your local Planned Parenthood, and a self-managed abortion, including legal considerations.”
On the asterisked word “Plan C,” Planned Parenthood includes a link to the website for Plan C, a service that helps women to obtain illegal abortions.
Planned Parenthood’s lawyers, no doubt aware that the organization is directing patients to a service that advises women how to conduct illegal activity and disregard medical guidelines, include this disclaimer: “*NOTE: Planned Parenthood is not responsible for nor does it endorse any legal, medical, or other advice or information provided by any of the entities identified or referenced herein or by any other third parties, whether referenced herein or not.”
Plan C directs women through the process of obtaining abortion drugs through six different illegal drug exporters. Five of those exporters provide the drugs with no questions asked and do not provide any support from a doctor or other clinician. The other method is Aid Access, an organization incorporated in Austria that provides women with clinical advice and connects them to an Indian drug exporter so they can obtain the illegal drugs.
Obtaining abortion drugs online is extremely dangerous, even if Aid Access pretends that it provides medically sound advice.
Plan C refers to Aid Access’s supplier as a “reputable pharmacy in India.” But a federal judge in Idaho called N N Agencies, its drug exporter as of 2021, “a merchant exporter of prescription medications.”
As The American Spectator previously reported, N N Agencies dispenses off-brand drugs that are not approved by the FDA. The FDA has repeatedly warned Americans that using unapproved drugs carries “significant health risks.” One study has found that up to 20 percent of drugs that are shipped from India are counterfeit.
Under the Trump administration, the FDA in 2019 issued a warning letter to Aid Access, ordering them to “immediately cease” introducing “misbranded and unapproved new drugs” into the U.S. market. Aid Access refused to comply.
The FDA said,
The sale of misbranded and unapproved new drugs poses an inherent risk to consumers who purchase those products. Unapproved new drugs do not have the same assurance of safety and effectiveness as those drugs subject to FDA oversight. Drugs that have circumvented regulatory safeguards may be contaminated; counterfeit, contain varying amounts of active ingredients, or contain different ingredients altogether.
In addition, Aid Access — which does not adhere to the FDA’s required Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies — says that it will serve women who are less than 10 weeks pregnant. As Aid Access says it can take three to four weeks for shipment, this means that women could receive the abortion pills four weeks later than the 10-week mark, before which the FDA says is safe for them to be used.
Aid Access’s method for determining the length of a woman’s pregnancy is highly suspect. It involves asking women to fill out an online form where they state the first day of their last menstrual period. The usual practice in the United States before a woman is given a medication abortion is for them to be given an ultrasound or another method of testing to determine how far along the pregnancy is. This is because the FDA says there can be serious complications if a woman who is more than 10 weeks pregnant or who has an ectopic pregnancy takes the drugs.
Of course, the other five drug operations to which Plan C directs women will sell women abortion pills without regard for their stage of pregnancy.
In 2019, a 21-year-old woman, Kalina Gillum, illegally ordered abortion pills from India and took 12 misoprostol tablets during her third trimester. The child was born alive. She failed to call 911, and the child died. After nine hours of bleeding out, she went to the hospital and lied to medical professionals, saying she didn’t know where her baby was. (Her baby was in a shoebox inside a garbage bag.)
Gillum was found guilty of endangering children, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.
The prosecutor, Jenny Wells, said, “She gave birth and left him laying [sic] on the floor of the bathroom; left him to die.”
As The American Spectator reported, Plan C implied that women should lie to their doctors if they experience any complications after taking the abortion pills: “People who visit urgent care,” Plan C said, “often say they are having a miscarriage (without mentioning that they have taken pills).” It now says, “People who self-manage their abortions do not need to report to doctors that they have used abortion pills that they purchased online. No one can tell that you have used the medications, even if a blood test is taken.”
Another danger with these abortion drugs is that there is nothing stopping children from ordering them online. Last year on Reddit, a person who stated she is a 15-year-old girl said she ordered abortion drugs from Aid Access without her pro-life parents’ knowledge. Commenters assuaged her worries that her parents would find out, saying that the packaging for the abortion drugs is discreet.
Abortion supporters are planning to use the illegal abortion trade to provide abortions to women who live in states that will ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, as the drafted Supreme Court majority opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suggests it will. (READ MORE from Ellie Gardey: Republicans Are Downplaying the Dobbs Opinion — That’s the Wrong Strategy)
A recent Politico article on mail-order abortion pills said, “Nonprofits and activist groups are posting online guides to obtaining the pills, holding pro-pill demonstrations in front of the Supreme Court and around the country, buying ads this month on the New York City subway, and driving mobile billboards around Texas.”
“Organizations are recruiting volunteers and hiring staff for 24-hour hotlines that walk people through the process of taking abortion pills, in anticipation of an uptick in demand,” Politico reported. “Some doctors’ associations are launching national campaigns in May to teach members how to prescribe the pills and urging them not to turn patients over to law enforcement.”
After the Supreme Court’s opinion leaked, the co-founder and co-director of Plan C, Elisa Wells, told the Los Angeles Times, “We see medication abortion as being a potentially transformative and disruptive technology in the face of these unjust laws that are being passed.”
Planned Parenthood’s decision to jump on this bandwagon and direct women to where they can obtain dangerous and illegal abortions demonstrates the organization’s dedication to radical abortion activism over providing ostensibly safe health care to women.
States seeking to ban abortion will need to craft strategies to block the illegal importation of abortion drugs — whether from other states or abroad.