NWHN Statement in Response to the FDA’s Action Against Aid Access

The following statement can be attributed to Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.

Washington D.C. - In a letter released Tuesday, the FDA warned online abortion pill provider AidAccess.org to immediately stop importing mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs that make up the most effective medication abortion regimen. While framed by FDA officials as part of a larger enforcement effort against online drug sales and not aimed at abortion access per se, the FDA’s history of politicizing medication abortion suggests otherwise.

Since its approval in 2000, the agency has subjected mifepristone to politically motivated, medically unnecessary restrictions guaranteed to limit access. Drugs subjected to Risk Evaluation Mitigation Strategy (REMS) controls are supposed to be among the most dangerous approved by the agency, but by the FDA’s own assessment, mifepristone’s “efficacy and safety [are] well-established by both research and experience, and serious complications have proven to be extremely rare.”

Yet despite a better safety track record than some over-the-counter drugs, the FDA prevents the sale of mifepristone at pharmacies, making it prohibitively expensive for many Americans who can’t afford to travel to a registered clinic to get the abortion pill. Aid Access was launched last year to serve pregnant people who do not have access to clinic-based abortion care or who prefer to self-manage their abortions at home. Today’s crackdown is further evidence that the FDA is more interested in making medication abortion harder to access than it is in helping women.

“The FDA should get its own house in order before seeking out more ways to restrict access to mifepristone and misoprostol,” said Cindy Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network. “Aid Access provides a vital service to women who want to safely and effectively self-manage their abortions at home. If the FDA is truly worried about the safety of abortion pills imported from overseas, they should lift the REMS immediately and allow Aid Access to prescribe from US pharmacies.”

The National Women’s Health Network strongly believes that medication abortion is one option of many that women ought to be able to choose for themselves. Reproductive health care needs are as unique as the people who have them, and we must trust that people will make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.

Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress,  NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.

Read more from Cindy Pearson.