C: Anthony Tran & Victoria Volkova via Unsplash

Three myths about medication abortions

“Medication abortion — also called the abortion pill — is a safe and effective way to end an early pregnancy” – according to Planned Parenthood.   

Even before the US Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, the Guttmacher Institute estimated that the abortion pill is used in more than half of American abortions. After Dobbs v. Jackson, the media is being flooded with articles about providers touting the virtues of the abortion pill.

They are quite wrong.

What is the abortion pill?

Chemical abortion is a two-drug process. It begins with Mifepristone (or RU-486), which blocks the hormone progesterone. This is essential in maintaining a woman’s pregnancy by preparing her body for conception and regulating her monthly menstrual cycle.

Blocking this hormone breaks down the uterine lining and prevents adequate nutrition transfer to the developing unborn child, resulting in its death.

Misoprostol is taken 24 to 48 hours after taking Mifepristone to cause uterine contractions in the body with the main objective of emptying the uterus. All of this is supposed to be done within the first trimester. A child’s heartbeat is detectable at that stage and his or her brain and lungs are also developing.

When does life begin?

In a 2017 survey, 4107 Americans were asked when they believed human life began. Respondents represented a diverse demographic and political spectrum: 62% held pro-choice views and 66% identified as Democrats; 57% were women and 43% men; 63% had graduated from college.

When asked who was most qualified to determine when a human life begins, 80% chose biologists over philosophers, religious leaders, voters, and Supreme Court Justices. When asked to explain why, 91% of those choosing biologists said it was because they are objective experts in the study of life.

The same study surveyed 5,557 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions. 63% of the participants were non-religious, 63% were male, 95% had a PhD, 92% were Democrats, and 85% were pro-choice. The sample also included biologists born in 86 different nations around the world. When asked when they believe human life begins, 95.7% of biologists agreed that human life begins with fertilisation.

Biologists study the origin, growth, and structure of living organisms. When people who study life inform us that human life begins at fertilisation, shouldn’t we do everything in our power to protect the life of the child growing within its mother’s womb?

Myth 1: Abortion pills are not misused

Every abortion takes a  life, but chemical abortion can also harm a mother’s life, even kill her. Where chemical abortion becomes legal, abortion pills can end up in the hands of traffickers, abusive partners, and other people planning to use them for nefarious purposes. There are reports of pregnant women being given abortion pills without their knowledge or consent.

In 2006, a man from Wisconsin gave his girlfriend a drink which he had spiked with Mifepristone. She became ill the next morning and miscarried her 14-week-old foetus. In 2014, a Kansas man was arrested for buying Mifepristone pills online and placing them in his girlfriend’s food, causing foetal death. In 2015, a Norwegian man slipped abortion pills into his ex-girlfriend’s smoothie and caused her to have a miscarriage. She lost the baby in the 12th week of her pregnancy. In 2017, a Virginia physician was charged with slipping four Mifepristone pills (800mg instead of the standard 200mg) into his girlfriend’s tea, resulting in the death of her unborn child. He pleaded guilty to foetal homicide and received a three-year prison sentence and lost his medical license.

These are the horror stories which were reported in the media; how many go unreported?

A 2018 study titled Exploring the feasibility of obtaining mifepristone and misoprostol from the internet identified 18 online sites selling abortion pills without a medical prescription or any relevant medical data such as medical history. The study concluded that obtaining abortion pills from rogue pharmaceutical websites is feasible in the US. Do we really want to make it even easier to buy abortion pills online and to use them to abuse pregnant partners and killing their children?

Myth 2: The abortion pill has fewer adverse effects

When evaluating chemical abortion from a medical standpoint, we must examine the negative effects on the health of mothers who undergo the procedure. A Finnish study of 42,619 abortions found that chemical abortion has four times the complication rate of surgical abortion and that one-fifth of all chemical abortions result in complications.

Overall, the study discovered that chemical abortion resulted in roughly four times the number of adverse events as surgical abortion. At least one type of adverse event took place in 20% of women who underwent a chemical abortion and 5.6% of women who had a surgical abortion. Haemorrhage was reported as an adverse event by 15.6% of chemical abortion patients compared to 2.1% of surgical abortion patients.

Similarly, a journalistic audit titled Abortion Pill ‘Less Safe Than Surgery” published in The Australian investigated approximately 6,800 surgical and chemical abortions. It found that 3.3% of women who used Mifepristone in the first trimester of their pregnancy went to the emergency room, compared to 2.2% who used a surgical method.

Furthermore, it was discovered that 5.7% (1 in 18 patients) of Mifepristone users needed to be readmitted to the hospital, compared to 0.4% (1 in 250) of surgical abortion patients. Usage of Mifepristone in second trimester abortions resulted in 33% of women requiring some form of surgical intervention, while 4% suffered a significant haemorrhage.

A Californian retrospective observational cohort study utilising American Medicaid data found a complication rate of 5.2% for chemical abortion versus a complication rate of 1.3% for first trimester surgical abortion. It also mentioned that the risk of complications present in the consumption of an abortion pill was four times that of a surgical abortion.

A 2016 Swedish study interviewed 119 women who had undertaken chemical abortion and found that nearly half of them (43%) bled more than expected,and a quarter (26%) bled for more than four weeks.

In short, the research results of these Finnish, Australian, American, and Swedish medical studies corroborate each other’s observations: chemical abortion causes adverse health effects in women. Additionally, both Mifepristone’s manufacturer, Danco Laboratories, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have acknowledged Mifepristone’s health risks to women: “Nearly all the women who receive Mifeprex and misoprostol will report adverse reactions, and many can be expected to report more than one such reaction”.

A report to the US House of Representatives Government Reform Committee, “The FDA and RU486: Lowering the Standard for Women’s Health”, warns of the physical risks of a RU-486 regimen. These included “abdominal pain; uterine cramping; nausea; headache; vomiting; diarrhea; dizziness; fatigue; back pain; uterine hemorrhage; fever; viral infections; vaginitis; rigors (chills/shaking); dyspepsia; insomnia; asthenia; leg pain; anxiety; anemia; sinusitis; syncope; pelvic pain; and fainting…”.

The same report cast doubt on the safety of Mifepristone and recommended its withdrawal from American markets. “The integrity of the FDA in the approval and monitoring of RU-486 has been substandard and necessitates the withdrawal of this dangerous and fatal product before more women suffer the known and anticipated consequences or fatalities. RU-486 is a hazardous drug for women, its unusual approval demonstrates a lower standard of care for women, and its withdrawal from the market is justified and necessary to protect the public’s health”.

Myth 3: The abortion pill  is monitored carefully

As of 2018, the FDA knows of 24 deaths, 4,195 adverse events, 1,042 hospitalizations, 599 cases of blood loss requiring transfusions and 412 cases of infections associated with Mifepristone.

The true figures of the various issues and adverse events caused by Mifepristone may be much higher due to issues with the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS).

A report by The Heritage Foundation sheds light on this issue:

As a condition of becoming a certified prescriber, the prescriber agreement originally required prescribers to report serious adverse events and complications to Danco, who, in turn, submits regular reports to the FDA. These adverse event s… are compiled in the FDA’s FAERS. But when a woman experiences an abortion complication, she will likely report to an emergency room or other outpatient facility rather than the practitioner who prescribed the abortion pill regimen … There is no way to know how often emergency rooms and other facilities fail to report complications to Danco or the FDA, as they may not know the woman is undergoing an elective chemical abortion as opposed to a miscarriage”.

Women who seek medical treatment for adverse reactions after taking Mifepristone may be too sick or refuse to disclose that they have taken the RU-486 drug regimen because they may not want that on their medical record. Medical professionals who were not responsible for overseeing chemical abortion procedures but who end up treating infected or haemorrhaging patients have no obligation to report adverse events for Mifepristone. In 2016, the FDA reduced the reporting requirements so that only deaths had to be reported to the FDA.

Conclusion

Numerous scientific and government sources have confirmed that the abortion pill is simply not medically safe. Nor is it socially safe – it has been procured for malicious ends such as murder of preborn children without their mothers’ knowledge.

Deficiencies in the FDA reporting system imply that the true damage caused by chemical abortions is unknown and that the number of women significantly harmed by the abortion pill regimen may be substantially higher than expected.

Why promote an unsafe drug? In a free society human being are accorded the same dignity irrespective of their age, gender, health condition or vulnerability. If we fail to respect life from conception, we will fail defend life after birth as well.

 


Bryan Gonsalves

Bryan Lawrence Gonsalves is the founder of Catholicism Coffee, Medium.com’s largest Catholic publication, and Servus Dei, Discord.com’s largest international Catholic server. His article is printed with permission
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