Ignoring the health risks of abortion pills is not caring for women

A new start-up called Choice (pronounced “Choice”) has started offering abortion pills to women… who aren’t even pregnant. The idea is to expand access to abortion pills so that women can attempt home abortions on demand. If it sounds like unethical medicine — and impending disaster — that’s because it is.

In recent days, activists have made repeated calls for expanded access to abortion pills by mail, especially in states that have opted to protect life now that the US Supreme Court has overturned Roe vs. Wade. An oft-cited claim is that these pills are “safe” – so safe, perhaps, that no doctor need be involved in the abortion, and a pregnant woman can simply have a chemical abortion at home. .

What is not mentioned is that the Food & Drug Administration has never bothered to find out what happens to women after they take abortion pills.

If you wanted to know how dangerous a drug was, perhaps the most important step would be to carefully monitor adverse incidents among those who take it. You would want to track serious side effects, hospitalizations and deaths. You would also need to know how many people are taking the drug in the first place. Many of us assume that the FDA collects this information as part of ensuring the safety of pharmaceutical products in the United States – and for the most part, it does.

But not when it comes to abortion drugs. Although charged with the essential duty of monitoring drug safety, the FDA requires Nope reports of non-fatal adverse effects of mifepristone (also known as RU-486), a chemical abortifacient drug, although since its introduction to the market in 2000 it has been on the short list of drugs so dangerous that they warrant enhanced regulation known as Risk Assessment and Mitigation Strategies. Instead, reporting of adverse reactions is only required for maternal deaths, disregarding life-threatening and traumatic incidents such as emergency surgeries, haemorrhages, blood transfusions, ruptured extra-uterine pregnancy. uterus and sepsis.

Yet we know that women are suffering serious complications from abortion pills in alarming numbers. Publicly available records, which capture only part of the real picture, show hundreds of significant adverse outcomes, ranging from massive bleeding to emergency uterine surgeries. The FDA decided that none of these serious complications were worth documenting.

And who is responsible for reporting deaths? The drugmaker – arguably the least incentivized actor to rigorously record the adverse effects of its multimillion-dollar product. Worse still, the drugmaker relies on those who facilitate abortions to self-report RU-486 maternal deaths, something the abortionists hardly profit from doing.

In this photo illustration, a person looks at an abortion pill (RU-486) ​​for unintended Mifepristone pregnancy displayed on a computer on May 8, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia.
Olivier DOULIERY / AFP/Getty Images

Further masking the dangers of abortion pills is the fact that – because women are sent home to bleed and give birth to their dead child, or they sell the pills online and never see a doctor – the abortionist n often has no follow-up to find out what happened. Instead, a pregnant woman who experiences severe pain or excessive bleeding may visit an emergency room without her medical records indicating that abortive medications are the cause of the problem.

When women don’t disclose their chemical abortions, deadly conditions like ectopic pregnancies or retained fetuses can easily go unnoticed, leading to septic shock, emergency hysterectomies, or worse. And, again, unless the woman dies, these medical tragedies go unreported.

The FDA also does not track the number of chemical abortions in any meaningful way. Reporting is voluntary. The same goes for the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whose voluntary reporting system is known to underestimate the number of abortions per hundreds of thousands every year.

In fact, the “best” data we have on the number of abortions comes from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, named after a former president of Planned Parenthood, which collects information from abortionists who choose to participate. According to Guttmacher, in 2020 nearly one million unborn children were killed by abortion in the United States. About 500,000 of these babies were poisoned and starved to death, then expelled from their mothers’ bodies, through the process of chemical abortion.

Guttmacher does not ask about the number of women who have hemorrhaged, been hospitalized, lost their uterus, or died as a result of these abortions.

In light of this problem, how could anyone jokingly claim that abortion pills are safe? The dangers are buried and ignored via a useless “tracking” system. Since the pharmaceutical company behind mifepristone is so shrouded in secrecy that it refuses to disclose its executives, offices, manufacturing sites, or investors, transparency in voluntary death reporting is unlikely at best. At every turn, the health and safety of women is ignored.

So, are abortion pills safe? Of course not. But the abortion industry and the FDA have no interest in finding out how dangerous they are. They should not be given any support for pushing a deadly chemical to the detriment of women’s health.

Denise Harle is Senior Counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom (@ADFLegal) and director of its Center for Life.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.

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