When the Patient Becomes the Physician

Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com on April 13, 2021.

The Biden administration has abandoned women by supporting the removal of the Food and Drug Administration requirements surrounding the distribution of the mifepristone abortion regimen. Based on extreme lobbying efforts of the pro-abortion movement on this issue, Americans might conclude these regulations—the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies, otherwise known as the REMS—were overly protective and put into place by the pro-life Trump administration; however, that is not the case.

The REMS are the product of the pro-abortion Clinton administration’s effort to ensure that the abortion regimen—which carries life-threatening and health-endangering risks such as hemorrhage, infection, incomplete pregnancy, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death—could be administered safely. The current REMS, kept by the pro-abortion Obama administration, state that the drug must be prescribed by a health care provider who can assess patient eligibility, diagnose ectopic pregnancies, and provide or facilitate emergency surgical intervention in the case of an incomplete abortion or severe bleeding. Essentially, the REMS are an attempt—albeit a weak one—to prevent or limit life-threatening complications from chemical abortions.

After over 20 years of complying with FDA safety regulations, the pro-abortion movement rallied to remove the REMS at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their efforts to exploit women, ignore the mandates of medicine, and profit by doing both began 50 years ago when America first reoriented public health around politics, instead of people.

In 1970, prior to the Roe v. Wade decision, the American Medical Association debated changing their policy to support abortion on demand. As part of this debate, pro-abortion and pro-life physicians expressed concerns about the consequences of the politicizing medicine. Dr. Allan Guttmacher, the president of Planned Parenthood at the time, feared that abortion on demand would make a doctor simply a “rubber stamp.” Dr. Gregory White warned that the legalization of abortion placed doctors in danger of becoming “the tools of social planners.” And perhaps most prophetically, Dr. Edward Kilroy argued, politicizing abortion, “makes the patient truly the physician: she makes the diagnosis and establishes the therapy.” Their words have proven especially poignant today.

By removing the REMS, abortion businesses, who claim they provide “care no matter what,” have now placed all the burdens of abortion—including diagnosing ectopic pregnancy, accurately assessing the length of pregnancy, determining RH negativity, performing the actual abortion, properly disposing of the remains of the aborted baby, and judging the appropriate amount of bleeding—on women. These businesses justify their lack of involvement by saying chemical abortion is just like a heavy period, but as Natalia, a 20-year-old woman who ingested the chemical abortion regimen and delivered her dead, unborn child into the toilet stated, “It was not like a heavy period. It was like a baby.”

With the legalization of abortion on demand, abortion became a practice in the field of politics, and ultimately, abortion businesses, who fund political campaigns, profit, while women pay—sometimes with their lives. The removal of the chemical abortion REMS is just another piece of evidence of this problem.

Doctors, not politicians, should make medical decisions, and doctors, not patients, should be responsible for assessing a patient’s pregnancy. In today’s world, where politicians become the authority on “health care”, doctors—as Dr. Allan Guttmacher feared—have simply become a “rubber stamp.”

With the removal of the chemical abortion REMS, the doctor’s role has been relegated even further—this time to placing an actual stamp on an envelope mailing deadly abortion pills to a woman who will be forced to become her own abortionist.