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Abortion is still a federal right in the United States, but restrictions at the state level have made accessing that right extremely difficult. Aid Access is a European organization that provides abortions to those in the U.S. by providing them with telemedicine and shipping them abortion pills via the postal service.
The nonprofit–which has been hailed as one of the safest and easiest forms of abortion–was founded in March of 2018 by Rebecca Gomperts, a doctor who has a long history in reproductive health services. In 1999, Gomperts also founded Women on the Waves, which used to sail to countries where abortion was illegal and administer legal and safe abortions out at sea. The organization has since modernized but still works in reproductive rights. Gomperts also founded Women on the Web in 2005 as an online abortion service for those living in countries where abortion is illegal or greatly restricted.
All three organizations ask for about $90 U.S. dollars or “pay what you can,” meaning they only ask for donations in the amount the person can afford.
In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent Aid Access a warning letter, instructing Gomperts to cease providing Aid Access services on grounds that it causes “the introduction into interstate commerce of misbranded and unapproved new drugs,” in violation of several FDA code sections.
In response, Gomperts fired back by suing the FDA on Monday in order to continue providing abortion pills to Americans. Gomperts’ lawsuit names U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
“The FDA is a huge institution. It’s very powerful, and it’s a form of intimidation that is quite severe,” Gomperts said in an interview with NPR. “I would say a form of bullying. And so I think it’s very important to stand up against it.”
As of right now, Aid Access is currently continuing to operate as normal.
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Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org