By / Dec 16

Mail order abortion pills are the next front for the pro-life movement, especially in light of the recent oral arguments in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The FDA today made permanent the temporary regulations allowing women to obtain the pills without an in-person consultation with their physician. This decision represents an extension of the abortion regime’s attempt to expand their ability to provide the abortion and a failure of the government to protect women from dangerous complications that may occur. In addition to making the regulations permanent, the FDA will require that pharmacies that dispense mifepristone be certified. 

What is the abortion pill and procedure?

The use of abortifacient medications has quickly become one of the most common forms of abortion. In 2019, abortion pills accounted for over 40% of all abortions in the United States. The pills may be used up to the 10th week of pregnancy. The procedure uses two separate medications. The first, mifepristone, blocks production of the hormone progesterone which thins the uterine lining and prevents the embryo from remaining implanted. The second pill, misoprostol, is taken 24 to 48 hours after the first dose. It causes the uterus to contract and discharge the child and placenta. A follow-up appointment is required after two weeks. Though this previously included either a sonogram to check for any remaining tissue or blood work to check for an infection caused from any remaining tissue, current regulations allow this to be completed by telephone. 

Previous FDA restrictions

Previously, the first pill had to be administered in a doctor’s office or at a clinic. The second pill could be taken at home. However in April 2021, the Biden administration lifted this requirement because of COVID-19 restrictions on gathering together. The temporary guidance allowed individuals to receive a prescription for the pill with only a telemedicine appointment. They were then shipped through the mail. At the time, the FDA argued that this was a result of review of multiple studies that noted no link between a lack of in-person visit and serious safety concerns. The decision by the Biden administration was a rollback of Trump-era policies that required the in-person visit and which were subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in a 6-3 decision.

The current regulations were temporary, in effect only because of the pandemic. However, the FDA’s decision today makes permanent the regulation, clearing the way for any certified healthcare provider to prescribe the drugs online and send them by mail. If the Supreme Court were to overturn the precedents in Roe, a possible outcome of the recent Dobbs abortion case heard earlier this month, individuals could still obtain the abortion pills through the mail with a telehealth consultation. Even in states which have passed restrictions on mail-order abortion pills, some companies have said that they will continue to ship the medication and disregard the laws and regulations. 

Dangers of mail-order chemical abortion

The FDA stated in their updated regulations that the “benefits outweighed the risks” as they removed the requirement for in-person consultation. However, though the rates of serious effects are statistically rare (between 1-2%), complications are not uncommon. Also, it should be noted that of the statistics that are available, there are disputes as to their accuracy because women may not report their adverse effects as being linked to the pill if they choose to go to the emergency room, thus leading to an undercounting of complications. 

Common complications from the abortion pills include severe bleeding or cramps as well as hemorrhaging. More dangerous, however, is the threat of an infection that may result from the medication not causing all of the fetal tissue and placenta to be expelled. Also, for individuals who have an ectopic pregnancy (an instance where the embryo implants outside of the uterus), detectable only through a sonogram, taking the first dose of medication — mifepristone — could cause very serious complications such as the rupture of the pregnancy and severe bleeding. 

How should Christians respond to the new regulations?

As Christians, we should lament the lengths to which abortion providers will go to extend the ghoulish practice of taking unborn lives. In some ways, it should be an encouragement that abortion providers feel the need to push for such drastic measures because it evidences the success of the pro-life movement in advancing and passing legislation restricting access to abortion and protecting the lives of the preborn. At the same time, Christians must recognize that this is further evidence that it is not enough just to make abortion illegal. We must convince the culture that the destruction of life is unthinkable.

Even in states that have outlawed the abortion pills, enforcement is difficult. Thus, Christians must work to ensure that they do not confuse the passing of pro-life legislation or the overturning of the precedents in Roe and Casey as the end of the fight. Important as that is, if people still desire abortions, these pills will be available. Christians must work tirelessly to proclaim the dignity of every human life and address those factors that lead women to consider abortion.

By / Aug 27

Federal regulators are likely to approve booster vaccines for all three approved COVID-19 vaccines — Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson — starting six months after inoculation, according to recent news reports. The Biden administration and companies have said that there should be enough supply for boosters that they plan to begin distributing more widely on Sept. 20.

Here is what you should know about COVID-19 booster vaccines. 

What exactly are booster vaccines?

A booster vaccine or booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine that is given after a specified time to “boost” the immune system and the immune response to a particular disease. For example, it is recommended that every 10 years adults get a booster shot of the tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine to ensure protection against those conditions. It’s not entirely clear to medical researchers why some vaccines are effective for life while others require booster doses. 

Are the booster vaccines the same as the initial vaccines?

Viruses constantly mutate, which is why there are a number of viral variants (such as the Delta variant) that differ somewhat from the original novel coronavirus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). In the future, pharmaceutical companies may create vaccines for specific strains of the virus (as is done now for the flu virus). But for now the booster vaccines for COVID-19 are the same formulation of the original vaccine created by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

What are the side effects of the booster vaccine?

Health officials predict that the effects of the booster vaccine will be ​​similar to the reaction caused by the last dose of the initial vaccine. The most common side effects are headache, fatigue, a low-grade fever, and/or muscle aches.

Do people who are immunocompromised need a COVID-19 booster vaccine?

To develop an initial level of immunity requires a specific dosage. For most people, the two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are sufficient to build an initial immune response. However, people who are immunocompromised may not be “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 until they have an extra dose of the vaccine. For the immunocompromised, this additional (third in the case of Moderna or Pfizer, second for Johnson & Johnson) is not a booster but a necessary dose in the primary vaccine series.

If we need a booster dose, does that mean that the vaccines aren’t working?

No. According to the Centers for Disease Control, COVID-19 vaccines are “working very well to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death, even against the widely circulating Delta variant.” With the Delta variant, though, public health experts are starting to see reduced protection against mild and moderate disease. For that reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning for a booster shot so vaccinated people maintain protection over the coming months.

When will booster vaccines be available in the United States?

Before booster vaccines can be administered, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must conduct an independent evaluation to determine their safety and effectiveness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must also issue booster dose recommendations.

This process is expected to be approved in time for boosters for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be available beginning Sept. 20. As with the initial shots, the people scheduled to ​receive them first are healthcare workers, nursing home residents, senior citizens, and others who received their first round of vaccinations last December.

Federal health officials are currently waiting to determine if a booster will be recommended for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Because that vaccine was not authorized until the end of February, there is less data available but also more time before the period for a booster becomes necessary. 

By / Apr 30

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Biden’s joint address to congress, India and the coronavirus tsunami, no need for masks outdoors, COVID-19 vaccine is safe for pregnant women, and the 2021 NFL draft. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including Seth Woodley with “How literature teaches us about leadership: Cultivating virtue reading,” Josh Wester, Jordan Wootten, and Brent McCracken with “Why we desperately need wisdom in this age of information,” and Ericka Anderson with “Why a second chance for incarcerated men is important.”

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Biden promotes sweeping agenda in speech
  2. FDA moves to ban menthol cigarettes
  3. Fact Sheet: The American Families Plan
  4. India’s COVID-19 death toll tops 200,000
  5. CDC: If You’re Vaccinated, You Don’t Need To Mask Outdoors
  6. Coronavirus cases are finally falling
  7. Preliminary Findings of mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Pregnant Women
  8. The NFL draft is this week
  9. Bill Belechick’s WFH draft

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