"Some women in the United States can exercise that right just by going down the street if those women happen to live in New York or San Francisco or other major metropolitan areas on either one of the coasts," Hearn told NPR. "But women in Idaho and other rural states, especially conservative states...cannot exercise that right."
Women who request medical abortions through Aid Access are seen by Gomperts in an online consultation, and if they are approved for the drugs, they are instructed on how to request them from a pharmacy in India.
According to the suit, between March 30, 2018 and August 27, 2019, Aid Access received thousands of requests for chemical abortions from women in the U.S. Gomperts claims that of these women, 7,131 have been prescribed misoprostol and mifepristone through Aid Access.
In its March letter, the FDA said that "by facilitating the sale of unapproved mifepristone and misoprostol to consumers in the U.S., Aidaccess.org causes the introduction of unapproved new drugs into U.S. commerce in violation of the FD&C Act."
Gomperts told NPR that Aid Access briefly stopped prescribing the drugs after the FDA letter, but resumed the practice in May.
"The FDA is a huge institution. It's very powerful, and it's a form of intimidation that is quite severe," Gomperts told NPR. "I would say a form of bullying. And so I think it's very important to stand up against it."
Aid Access is the sister organization of Women on Web, which sends medical abortion drugs to women seeking abortion in countries in which the practice is illegal, and Women on Waves, a boat that performs abortions in international waters in order to circumvent legal issues women may face.
The lawsuit comes just after Planned Parenthood announced an expansion of its telemedical services through its app, through which users can request birth control delivery, UTI treatment prescriptions, and appointments at Planned Parenthood.
According to its website, Planned Parenthood has also used telemedicine to prescribe mifepristone and misoprostol, the two drugs used in medical abortions. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 18 states require that a licensed physician be physically present during medical abortions, effectively banning abortions prescribed via telemedicine in those states.
Kristan Hawkins, president of pro-life organization Students for Life of America, recently testified to the dangers of RU-486, or medical abortions, in California. In her testimony, she noted that the FDA had previously updated its notes on the dangers of medical abortions.
"As of December 31, 2018, there were reports of 24 deaths of women associated with RU-486 since the product was approved in September 2000, including two cases of ectopic pregnancy resulting in death; and several cases of severe systemic infection (sepsis), including some that were fatal," the updated FDA note states.
(Story continues below)
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"To date, the report documents nearly 4,200 reported adverse effects, including hospitalization and other serious complications," Hawkins said at the time.
Hawkins said in a Sept. 9 statement that Aid Access appears to want to prioritize profits over the safety of women.
"Protecting women from the known dangers of abortion-inducing drugs is good and safe policy," Hawkins said.
"Risking women's lives so that an international sales team for abortion pills can more easily operate is not in the interests of American women. It's easy to understand why a profit-driven industry for chemical abortion pills wants fewer health and safety standards but protecting women from the known dangers of the pills is the right public policy."