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Ted Cruz-led senators want abortion pill classed as ‘dangerous’

Twenty Republican senators sent a letter to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking that the abortion pill be deemed dangerous.

The letter centers around a drug taken to abort an early pregnancy known as Mifeprex or by its generic name mifepristone.

Led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the lawmakers call on Commissioner Stephen Hahn to ‘classify the abortion pill as an ‘imminent hazard to the public health’ that poses a ‘significant threat of danger’ and ‘remove this pill from the US market.’

They claim medical abortions have higher risks than surgical abortions and it was approved too rapidly despite little evidence of life-threatening complications.

‘Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease,’ Cruz tweeted, echoing a sentence used in the letter. 

‘Make no mistake, Mifeprex is a dangerous pill. That’s why 20 of my Republican colleagues and I are urging @US_FDA to classify it as such.’  

The senators who co-signed the letter are: 

Mike Braun (R-Indiana)

Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee)

Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas)

Mike Crapo (R-Idaho)

Ted Cruz (R-Texas)

Kevin Cramer (R- North Dakota)

Steve Daines (R-Montana)

Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming)

Joni Ernst (R-Indiana)

John Hoeven (R-North Dakota

 Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi)

James Inhofe (R-Iowa)

James Lankford (R-Oklahoma)

Mike Lee (R-Utah)

 Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia)

Rob Portman (R-Ohio)

Pat Roberts (R-Kansas)

Michael Rounds (R-South Dakota)

Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi)

 James Risch (R-Idaho)

Mifeprex, previously known as RU-486, is used to end an pregnancy no more than 10 weeks along or up to 70 days since the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period.

The drug works by blocking the hormone progesterone, which thickens the uterine lining, allowing a fertilized egg to attach and grow.

Without this thickening process, the egg cannot attach and the pregnancy spontaneously ends.   

On day one, 200 mg of mifepristone are given orally as a single dose under medical supervision followed by 800 mcg of misoprostol in the cheek 24 to 48 hours later.  

The FDA first approved Mifeprex in 2000 and approved the combination of the two medications in 2016.

Medicated abortions made up 39 percent of all abortions in the US in 2017, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Between September 2000 and December 2018, 24 of the 3.7 million women who have had medical abortions have died, FDA data shows.

Additionally, a 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found ‘infection, hospitalizations and hemorrhage requiring transfusions occur in fewer than [one] percent’ of women who underwent medication abortions as opposed to surgical abortions.  

Meanwhile, the maternal mortality rate in the US in 2018, the latest year for which complete data is available, was 17.4 per 100,000 live births, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states.

CDC data also shows that 700 US women die from pregnancy-related complications each year and that three out of five deaths could be prevented. 

Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country with 18.5 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2018.

In their letter. the senators say ‘this deadly pill should never have been approved’ and say  it was approved through ‘an accelerated approval process normally reserved for high-risk drugs that address life-threatening illnesses like AIDS.’ has reached out to the FDA and Sen. Cruz’s office for comment. 

The letter was met with swift backlash from both Democratic lawmakers and abortion rights advocates.

‘This is a dangerous, misogynistic lie,’ tweeted Shannon Feshour, a Democratic candidate for Congress in November.

‘Pregnancy can, and often is, a life-threatening or even life-ending medical condition, especially among black mothers and women of color.’  

Ilyse Hogue, the president of the reproductive rights lobbying and advocacy organization NARAL Pro-Choice America tweeted: ‘Medication abortion is incredibly safe. Ted Cruz knows this. Fear and lies are all they have to push their unpopular agenda.

‘And politicians who push ideology over science to shape public policy are precisely the ones who got us a disastrous response to COVID. It has to end now.’ 

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