American Civil Liberties Union Sues Food and Drug Administration

American Civil Liberties Union

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand access to the abortion pill, on Oct. 3, 2017. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three health care associations and a physician, named Graham Chelius, who works on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

The FDA says the abortion pill, which is marketed in the U.S. as Mifeprex and can only be dispensed in certified clinics, hospitals, and doctor’s offices. The lawsuit is primarily about making the pill accessible by prescription across the U.S. in pharmacies, so that more women will have access to the drug.

Chelius stated, “There are no abortion providers on our island, so if a woman wants to end her pregnancy, she has to fly to a different island about 150 miles away to get this care.” He feels that women on the island will have to endure an unwanted pregnancy because they cannot afford a plane ticket.

He is unable to stock the pill due to objections from other colleagues. This could be avoided if the pills were accessible on their island. Hawaii has one of the largest poverty rates so how will women afford this care?

Mifeprex can be taken for an abortion up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy. The pill was FDA approved in 2000. The lawsuit came in March 2016, after the FDA announced it would relax restrictions on the Mifeprex.

The FDA expanded access to Mifeprex by updating the prescribed information on the label, which changed to time frame of use from 49 to 70 days into gestation, cutting the dosage, and reducing the number of doctor visits.

Others opposed to this idea, such as Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetrician and Gynecologist stated, “Is the pharmacist going to answer her call at 5 in the morning when she is suffering or needs some help? The pharmacist is not going to be there.”

Chelius believes in the oath he took to provide his patients with the best care available, and being restricted by the FDA is making his job harder.

To further support their case, the American Civil Liberties Union cited a June 2016 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down the imposition of restrictions on the Texas abortion law.

Written by Nicole Thompson
Edited by Jeanette Smith

Sources :

NPR: ACLU Sues to increase access to abortion pill
U.S. News: ACLU Sues over FDA restrictions on abortion pill
Chicago Tribune: ACLU Sues over FDA limits on abortion pill access

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of The U.S Food and Drug Administration’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons Licensed


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