A European doctor is suing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in an effort to continue providing abortion pills to American women over the Internet. Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who divides her time between Austria and the Netherlands, has prescribed the medication to more than 7,000 U.S. patients seeking to end first-trimester pregnancies since March 2018. This March, the FDA sent a warning letter accusing her business of violating federal law by misbranding and facilitating the improper distribution of the drugs.
Gomperts uses telemedicine to consult with patients online, provides them with a prescription, and instructs them on how to request the medication from an exporter in India. The drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, are both approved by the FDA to induce abortion under a doctor’s direction. However, mifepristone is heavily regulated in the U.S., making it difficult for many women to obtain it.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in Idaho claims that the FDA has blocked Gomperts’ organization, Aid Access, from receiving payments from some patients and has seized between three and 10 doses of abortion drugs she has prescribed. In supporting documentation, she says that she has heard from women who say they’ve been contacted by federal officials and apparently had medications seized. FDA officials have declined to comment on the litigation or any potential or pending regulatory actions against Gomperts and Aid Access.
There are a number of reasons why women might seek abortion drugs online. Some patients prefer to take pills privately, at home, rather than going to a clinic. Others live in states that have enacted onerous requirements, such as ultrasounds and long waiting periods, before they can obtain the medications. The cost can also be a factor, with some clinics charging hundreds of dollars for a medically induced abortion. Gomperts charges the equivalent of about $90 for patients in the United States, which covers the consultation, prescription, and medication.