U.S. May Shut Down Postal Subsidies for Illegal Abortion Drugs from Overseas

By | October 25, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 26 (C-Fam) President Donald Trump recently announced the U.S. pull-out from a little-known UN agency that sets standards for international postal issues.

Besides the shipment of counterfeit products from China into the U.S., the issue included the U.S. subsidizing Chinese shipments of the deadly drug fentanyl into the hands of U.S. addicts.

In the same way, illegal abortion drugs may be making their way through the U.S. Postal Service into the U.S. Advocates have created a website called Aid Access offering abortion-causing drugs by mail to women in the U.S.

Similar operations have been working for years to ship abortion drugs to countries in which abortion is illegal or heavily restricted. As the drugs bound for the United States are sent from a supplier in India, the same type of postal subsidies that facilitate the import of fentanyl from China may be enabling the cheap import of misoprostol and mifepristone for abortions.

The Universal Postal Union (UPU) was established in 1874 and is headquartered in Switzerland.  In addition to harmonizing national postal services to enable worldwide mail delivery, the UPU classifies countries according to their economic development to subsidize commerce from less developed countries.  China, despite having the world’s second-largest economy, remains a “Group 3” country, alongside developing nations like Cuba and Gabon.  India is classified as a “Group 4” country, meaning it receives even higher postal subsidies.

The illicit trade in drugs from foreign countries has been identified as a severe problem with the current UPU framework by the Hudson Institute Postal Commission.  While the risks of abortion drugs are different from those of opiates, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to insist that mifepristone is distributed with the supervision of a healthcare provider, despite loosening some of the initial restrictions on its use in 2016.  The FDA has stated its intention to investigate Aid Access for illegally distributing mifepristone over the internet and placed a warning on its website urging women not to jeopardize their health by buying it online and using it without supervision.

The FDA urges citizens not to “bypass important safeguards designed to protect your health (and the health of others).”  The latter part of that warning is essential: one reason for restrictions on the unsupervised use of abortion drugs is the risk that pregnant women may be coerced into taking them or administered them without their knowledge or consent.  This concern is not merely hypothetical: earlier this month, a Wisconsin man was sentenced to 22 years in prison for slipping abortion-inducing drugs into his pregnant girlfriend’s drink.

The online abortion provider Aid Access was started by Dutch doctor Rebecca Gomperts, who previously founded Women on Waves and Women on Web to perform abortions in countries where it is illegal.  According to their website, self-induced medical abortion with pills purchased online is “safe.” For women experiencing complications, Aid Access advises, “you do not have to tell the medical staff that you tried to induce an abortion; you can tell them that you had a spontaneous miscarriage.”  In addition to contributing to the underreporting of the risks of abortion drugs, this advice would potentially shield Aid Access from being implicated if a woman using their service suffers severe harm or even death.