A Dutch doctor who prescribes abortion pills to American women online is suing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after she said the medications were seized in the U.S. mail.
Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who is based in Amsterdam, argued in a suit filed Monday in a federal district court in Idaho that several packages of abortion drugs she had prescribed had been confiscated. Her suit also claims that payments for the drugs had been blocked.
The physician last year launched the website Aid Access, which aims to safeguard access to the abortion pills as clinics across the U.S. are driven out of business by increasingly restrictive state laws. A handful of states have only one clinic that provides abortions, forcing patients to travel hundreds of miles to obtain services.
“For many women seeking to terminate their unwanted pregnancies … their only practical option is found on the internet,” states Gomperts’ lawsuit. The FDA is “actively using the power of the government to deny … patients their constitutionally protected right to terminate” their pregnancies.
In 1991, Gomperts famously launched Women on Waves and provided reproductive health care and abortions in international waters to dodge nations’ restrictive laws.
Now Gomperts consults with patients online, writes prescriptions and provides instructions on how to request the medication from an exporter in India, NPR reported. The pills are then shipped to patients’ homes.
According to Gomperts’ lawsuit, 37,000 women from all 50 states in the U.S. have contacted Aid Access since it started in March 2018. She has prescribed abortion pills to more than 7,000 American women seeking to end first-trimester pregnancies, the suit states.
The drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol, are both approved by the FDA to induce abortion under a doctor’s direction.
The FDA has refused to comment on the suit.
In March, the agency issued a warning letter accusing Aid Access of violating federal law by misbranding and facilitating the improper distribution of the drugs, which it called an “inherent risk to consumers.” The agency ordered Aid Access to stop distributing the medications in the U.S.
Gomperts has continued to write prescriptions through Aid Access and insists that what she is doing is safe.
“I sincerely believe there is a human right here to be defended,” she told Vice recently. “What I’m doing is in accordance with all the human rights agreements that exist, as well as the U.S. Constitution.”