Citing "profound concerns," pro-life groups press senators to oppose Califf for FDA commissioner

Citing \"profound concerns,\" pro-life groups press senators to oppose Califf for FDA commissioner (Joshua Sukoff/Unsplash)

Update: The Senate panel considering the nomination of Robert Califf for commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) voted Thursday to advance his nomination to the full Senate. The committee voted 13-8, largely along party lines, the New York Times reports, with a few Democrats opposing the nomination, "citing the devastation of the opioid epidemic and Califf’s financial ties to pharmaceutical companies." The date for the Senate’s vote on confirmation has not been set.

A group of nearly 50 pro-life groups sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Wednesday urging opposition the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner. Califf previously held the position in the Obama administration. The letter effort was led by national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. The nomination is scheduled for a committee vote on Thursday. 

During Califf’s tenure the FDA had significantly undermined the reporting and safety requirements for chemical abortion, the groups said. 

“In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee last month, Califf was asked about chemical abortion, and did not address his role in weakening safeguards on the drug," the letter reads in part. "Instead, he told the committee that he trusted that any decision made by the FDA would be based on the best available data. There is a cruel irony in the fact that FDA data is ‘woefully inadequate’ data due to Califf’s own decisions while serving as FDA Commissioner during the Obama administration.

“Now the Biden administration seeks your consent to return Dr. Robert Califf to the top spot at the FDA where he will be asked to approve mail-order chemical abortion," it states. "With a track record of rubber-stamping abortion industry demands and with permanent authorization of unsafe mail-order abortion hanging in the balance, Califf is the wrong choice for FDA Commissioner. We urge you to vote no on his nomination.”

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Last month the Biden administration acted to weaken longtime federal safety standards for abortion pills known as REMS (Risk Evaluation Management Strategy). The administration policy permits mail-order abortion pills - dangerous at-home, do-it-yourself abortion without medical oversight.

The FDA's REMS designation is reserved for drugs with serious safety concerns. The REMS had been in place for the abortion pill, mifepristone, since it came on the market in 2000, and had required that the drug only be prescribed by a certified health-care provider and dispensed in a clinic, hospital or medical office. An in-person exam by a physician is necessary to properly determine the gestation of a woman's pregnancy, and to also screen for ectopic pregnancy and other conditions. Without such an exam a woman taking the abortion pill would be at increased risk for complications. The FDA has added the requirement that pharmacies that dispense the drug be specially certified.

The letter also states:

"The in-person requirement is needed to give physicians the opportunity to accurately confirm and date the pregnancy, rule out an ectopic pregnancy, test the woman’s Rh factor, and make certain she is not being coerced into taking the drug regimen."

Chemical abortion is on the rise, comprising an estimated 44% of the abortions occurring in the U.S., and with it the possibility of women experiencing complications.

Heartbeat International, the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in the world, was among the signatories of the letter to the Senate.

Jor-El Godsey, president of Heartbeat International, said it is incumbent on the FDA to ensure public health, and that Califf's previous FDA record signals abortion industry profit is a priority.

"Heartbeat International believes the FDA should be 'protecting the public health' from the evils of chemical abortion," Godsey said. "Unfortunately, nominee Califf seems far more interested in protecting the profits of Big Abortion and not the public health."

Tweet This: "With a track record of rubber-stamping abortion industry demands, Califf is the wrong choice for FDA Commissioner."

SBA List said that it plans to score against Califf should his nomination advance to the full Senate.

The group's president denounced Califf's record and said the FDA should not confirm Califf for the good of women and children.

“Califf has a record of putting the abortion lobby’s extreme agenda ahead of women’s safety and the lives of unborn children. There is little doubt he will permanently authorize mail-order abortions if confirmed to lead the FDA. The Senate must protect mothers and children by rejecting his nomination.”

A recent study authored from Dr. James Studnicki and a team of experts at SBA List's research arm the Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) concluded that chemical abortion is a major public health threat. The study found that the rate of abortion-related emergency room visits following a chemical abortion increased by more than 500% from 2002 through 2015. Looking at 423,000 confirmed abortions, CLI scholars also found that the rate of chemical abortion-related ER visits is growing much faster than surgical abortion-related ER visits, and that chemical abortion makes subsequent abortions more dangerous.

The full list of the letter's signatories is below:

Marjorie Dannenfelser
Susan B. Anthony List

Carol Tobias
National Right to Life

Kristan Hawkins
Students for Life Action

Jeanne Mancini
March for Life Education and Defense Fund

Penny Young Nance
CEO and President
Concerned Women for America LAC

Lila Rose
Founder and President
Live Action

Catherine Glenn Foster
President & CEO
Americans United for Life

Craig DeRoche
President & CEO
Family Policy Alliance

Star Parker
Center for Urban Renewal and Education

Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.
The Ethics and Public Policy Center

Brian Burch

Abby Johnson
Founder & CEO
And Then There Were None

Colleen Holcomb
Eagle Forum

Jessica Anderson
Executive Director
Heritage Action for America

Donna J. Harrison M.D.
American Association of Pro-Life
Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Felicia Pricenor, Esq.
Director of Government Affairs
March for Life Action

Jor-El Godsey
Heartbeat International

Bradley Mattes
Life Issues Institute

Amber S. Haskew
Director of Public Policy
Liberty Counsel Action

Thomas A. Glessner, J.D.
National Institute of Family
and Life Advocates (NIFLA)

Travis Weber
Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs
Family Research Council

Austin Ruse
Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam)

Mr. C. Preston Noell III
Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.

Jordan Sekulow
Executive Director
American Center for Law and Justice

Steven Ertelt

Eric J. Scheidler
Executive Director
Pro-Life Action League

Alexandra Snyder, Esq.
Life Legal Defense Foundation

David Nammo
Executive Director & CEO
Christian Legal Society

Janet Morana
Executive Director
Priests for Life

Andrew M. Bath
Executive Vice President & General Counsel
Thomas More Society

Tami Fitzgerald
Executive Director
NC Values Coalition

Joshua Edmonds
Executive Director
Georgia Life Alliance

Chuck Hurley
Vice President & Chief Counsel
The FAMiLY Leader

Cheryl Sullenger
Senior Vice President
Operation Rescue

Addia K. Wuchner R.N.
Executive Director
Kentucky Right to Life

Julaine K. Appling
Wisconsin Family Action

John Helmberger
Chief Executive Officer
Minnesota Family Council

Michael Gonidakis
Ohio Right to Life

Jason J. McGuire
Executive Director
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms

Esther Ripplinger
President & CEO
Human Life of Washington

Kelsey Hazzard
Secular Pro-Life

Zach Rodgers
Executive Director
Right to Life of Northeast Indiana

Deborah Tilden
VP, Founder
S.M.A.R.T. Women’s Healthcare

Gene Mills
Louisiana Family Forum

Samuel H. Lee
Campaign Life Missouri

Eva Andrade
Hawaii Family Forum

Lois Anderson
Executive Director
Oregon Right to Life

Jonathan Keller
California Family Council

John Gerardi
Executive Director
Right to Life of Central California

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages the Abortion Pill Rescue® Network and Pregnancy Help News.



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