Earlier this week, after 16 years holding to a strict post-marketing regimen for how medication abortions (the abortion pill, also called RU-486) should be administered, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was disregarding those standards and relaxing the protocol. Aligning conveniently with much of the current practice of abortion giant Planned Parenthood, the FDA’s new protocol increases the gestational limits and at the same time loosens the safety standards for how to use medication abortions. The FDA took this action without a transparent process involving public notice or opportunity for comment.

Why is this such a significant and offensive change? First, the new protocol is essentially a rubber stamp by President Obama’s FDA of Planned Parenthood’s preferred protocol. As has been reported, years ago the abortion industry “found that prescribing a lower dose of the expensive mifepristone and increasing misoprostol saved approximately $200 per abortion,” allowing for a larger profit margin. And this week’s action by the FDA amounts to the FDA blessing this profits-over-safety approach.

Second, although touted as a protocol that increases access to medication abortions, the protocol does so at the expense of women’s health and safety. The new protocol increases the gestational limit from seven weeks to 10 weeks (one week beyond even what Planned Parenthood says has been their practice), yet the statistics are clear that after seven weeks the risk of complications and frequency of incomplete abortions needing follow-up surgical abortions multiplies. The FDA apparently has ignored this information.

Another common sense safety requirement thrown out by the new protocol is to no longer require that the second pill be taken in a clinic or physician’s office. Rather, the new advice of the FDA is to take the second labor-inducing drug at “a location appropriate for the patient.” Increasing access and customers for Planned Parenthood should not be the main focus when the government is setting recommended health and safety standards for the entire country.

Finally, the lack of transparency and absence of public notice or comment is telling. Contrary to what Planned Parenthood would suggest, not all medical experts agree that their profits-over-safety protocol is safer than the original FDA protocol. It’s the abortion industry and their allies who agree. Given the difference in medical opinion, the FDA should have exercised due diligence and heard from all parties instead of just the drug’s manufacturer and the abortion-at-any-cost-for-any-reason-at-any-stage-of-pregnancy crowd.

It goes without saying but if there was ever a question of the influence of Big Abortion with the current president, the answer is clear. And this brings me to how the FDA’s decision impacts Arizona.

In 2012, the Arizona legislature stepped in to require medication abortions be administered according to the FDA protocol when it was discovered that the abortion industry was ignoring the safety standards. After two Planned Parenthood lawsuits and two years of litigation, this year the Arizona legislature passed the CAP-supported SB 1324 to resolve one of the lawsuits by specifying the protocol be followed as of December 31, 2015. This bill was passed last week and transmitted to Governor Ducey’s desk on Monday. The FDA announced their change on Wednesday. In spite of the FDA’s change in protocol, Governor Ducey thankfully signed SB 1324 into law.

With the signing of SB 1324 and this week’s change in FDA protocol, Governor Ducey included a note to lawmakers acknowledging that additional legislation may be needed to resolve the discrepancy of the law requiring a now out of date protocol.

Due to this week’s politically-motivated action by the FDA, we are working with lawmakers and exploring all options as to what steps can and should be taken. Stay tuned for updates.

Most of all, this week’s news reminds us of the need to reach women considering an abortion with the truth about how abortion hurts women and how abortion stops a beating heart. I grieve over the thought of a woman ten weeks pregnant being sent home with a pill to induce labor to deliver her now-deceased child at home, often alone. Taking the abortion pill is never the answer for a pregnant woman. If you’re not involved with your local pregnancy resource center or a ministry reaching abortion-minded women, consider doing so!

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