For decades, Rebecca Gomperts has been helping women terminate their pregnancies in countries with abortion bans. She began in the nineties by launching Women on Waves, using a Dutch ship anchored in international waters to give abortions on board. Now she mails abortion pills to women who contact her, including in America—causing a stir with the FDA.
Gomperts, a medical doctor from the Netherlands, announced last year that she had created a new organization, Aid Access, to help women in places like the U.S., where abortion is becoming increasingly restricted. A few months later, in March, the Food and Drug Administration notified her that she is violating federal law by selling “misbranded and unapproved new drugs,” according to a report in Mother Jones.
Gomperts says she won’t back down, writing on the Aid Access website, “I will not be deterred. When women in the U.S. seeking to terminate their pregnancies prior to nine weeks consult me, I will not turn them away. I will continue to protect the human and constitutional rights of my patients to access safe abortion services.”
Shortly after the FDA letter was sent, 120 members of Congress wrote to FDA Commissioner Norman Sharpless to thank him for taking action, according to Mother Jones. Gomperts told the magazine that she thinks the congressional letter shows that there is political pressure on the FDA to act. “I’ve been doing this for 16 years. This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a letter like this,” she said. “It’s a bullying strategy.”
The abortion pills she distributes, mifepristone and misoprostol, are safe and effective, according to Mother Jones. “Whether law enforcement and the FDA can stop the flow of pills, and whether they have jurisdiction to do so,” the report said, “remains to be seen.”
Read the full story at Mother Jones.