Dutch Doctor Sues US Over Restricted Abortion Medication

The Food & Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

(CN) – A Dutch doctor claims the U.S. government seizes abortion medication she prescribed her online patients, breaching both their privacy and their health care rights.

Netherlands-based doctor Rebecca Gomperts says she prescribes U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to induce an abortion to patients after she thoroughly reviews their medical history.

According to her complaint filed in the District of Idaho, the medications misoprostol and mifepristone are only made available under strict guidelines through approved distributors and cannot be received through traditional pharmacies.

She says this provides an “undue burden” to women in the United States and has forced many to use the internet to access these medications. That includes patients in primarily rural states like Idaho, where only a handful of physicians are certified to prescribe the medication.

Gomperts says she founded her online practice Aid Access in 2018 to serve women internationally who have unwanted first trimester pregnancies and cannot easily terminate the pregnancy.

According to the complaint, Aid Access answers more than 120,000 emails from women around the world and was contacted nearly 37,000 times between March 2018 and August 2019 by women from all 50 states.

The medications can only be provided through approved distributors who are able to date a pregnancy and diagnose an ectopic pregnancy and make plans for the patient to receive surgical care in cases of incomplete abortion or severe bleeding, according to the complaint.

After the medical evaluation, Gomperts says she directs patients to a merchant exporter of prescription medications based in India. The company, N N Agencies, exports prescriptions that are valid under a drug manufacturing license by the Sikkem government in India, according to the complaint.

Gomperts says nearly 130 women living in Idaho have contacted her and she has prescribed abortion medication to 39 of them since March 2018.

On March 8, 2019, Gomperts says she received a letter from the FDA that said she and Aid Access “cause the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded and unapproved new drugs” in violation of federal law.

She says this caused her to stop providing medical abortions for patients in the United States for about two months before resuming in May.

Money transfers between Gomperts and Aid Access have been blocked on multiple occasions without explanation. Two businesses contacted Gomperts to say that they would no longer do business with Aid Access to transfer payments from patients in the United States, Gomperts says in her complaint.

Between three and ten patients living in the United States did not receive their medications and based on tracking information Gomperts thinks they were seized by the FDA.

Gomperts says she was cited with the same violations as Ursula Wing, a woman who sold abortion pills online and was recently indicted for importing “foreign-sourced versions” of the same medications into the United States. Wing was also charged with conspiracy for allegedly misbranding medication sent from India. Gomperts says all medications she imported were done so legally, but she was told she could face similar penalties.

Gomperts names acting Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Food and Drug Administration and the acting director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, among other federal agencies.

She claims violations of patients’ right to privacy, equal protection under the Fifth Amendment and other allegations.

An FDA spokesperson said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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