Post-Roe push to increase access to abortion pills meets resistance from pro-life doctors

Pro-life doctors sounded the alarm on Wednesday over the Biden administration’s efforts to expand access to abortion pills, arguing that lifting restrictions would put the lives of pregnant women at risk.

Leaders of the pro-life American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) say the White House and major medical groups are failing to warn the public about the dangers associated with allowing the delivery of abortion drugs chemicals at home by mail without permission. person clinic visit.

“We need to protect our patients from this surge of home-made medical abortions,” said Dr. Christina Francis, board-certified OB-GYN from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and CEO-elect of the group of pro-life doctors. . a call for the press.

“It’s dangerous,” she said. “This home use of these drugs is dangerous for many reasons.”

Dr Francis said women should have in-person checkups to determine the progress of their pregnancy before taking the pills.

“Women should also be screened for life-threatening ectopic pregnancy, which occurs in 1 in 50 pregnancies, preferably with an ultrasound,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, CEO of AAPLOG and certified OB-GYN.

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“By not having an ultrasound, by allowing home use, you have 1 in 50 women at risk of dying because the symptoms of a ruptured ectopic pregnancy are exactly the same symptoms as an abortion to Mifeprex: pain and bleeding,” she said. .

“There have been women who have called in pain and bleeding and been told, ‘Honey, lay down and get a Tylenol,’ and they bled to death because they had ruptured an extra pregnancy. womb,” she said.

Their message ran counter to White House push to increase access to chemical home abortions in response to state restrictions on procedures following the Supreme Court’s June overturning of Roe. v.Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion a federal constitution. right.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration authorized the prescription of mifepristone and misoprostol, the two-part chemical abortion protocol, by telehealth during the pandemic, then made the rules permanent.

The agency also required pharmacies that dispense mifepristone to be certified.

The FDA’s decision was applauded by a host of medical groups, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which called the new rules “a safe and effective regimen for medical abortion.”

“Decades of evidence and the consensus of the medical community underscore that mifepristone is a safe drug, that FDA requirements do not benefit patients, and that FDA requirements disproportionately burden communities already facing structural barriers to care, including people of color and those living long distances. of a medical professional,” ACOG leaders said in a March statement.

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said his department would seek to make abortion pills more accessible through federal programs. He cited a June 24 directive from President Biden.

“First, HHS will take steps to increase access to medical abortion,” he said. “Federal law requires our programs to provide medical abortion in limited circumstances, including the life of the woman, rape, or incest. Now more than ever, it is imperative that all federally supported programs and services comply with and deliver according to the law.

Pro-life doctors said the administration’s actions did not take into account the risks associated with abortion pills or public opinion.

The organization released a poll on Wednesday showing that 54% of registered voters “oppose unsupervised home medical abortions”, while 30% support them and 10% fall into the “dependent/neutral” category.

The poll was conducted June 3-6 among 1,600 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error was 2.45 percentage points.

The survey included a question about emergency room visits resulting from chemical abortions. Citing its analysis of Medicaid claims data, the group said the number of visits increased by 500% between 2002 and 2015.

“That number was before the FDA relaxed its rules, and with all those restrictions in place, women would need to see a doctor in person,” Dr. Francis said.

“So we know these complications are only going to increase when you take the doctor out of this process,” she said. “So we have to demand better health care for our patients. Women deserve better than what they receive from the abortion industry. They deserve accurate information.

Medical abortions accounted for more than half of all first-time procedures in 2020.

A 2018 study by the National Academies of Sciences found a “very low rate of serious complications,” according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute.

The group of pro-life doctors called for more extensive and accurate data collection on abortion.

States are not required to track or report abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which publishes an annual report on abortion data. One of the states that does not report data is California.

Pro-life doctors have also pushed back against what they called ‘scaremongering’ from the pro-choice movement, such as raising concerns that doctors are not treating pregnant women for miscarriages or extra pregnancies. -uterus for fear of violating national abortion laws.

“Women will not be at risk of not being able to be treated for an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or even other life-threatening complications of pregnancy,” Dr. Francis said. “For those of us who are pro-life doctors, I can tell you that I have been practicing for 14 years. I have never needed to perform an abortion, yet I have been able to provide excellent health care to my patients.

Dr. Francis accused pro-choice advocates of spreading misinformation and making women needlessly fearful.

“I think for people who intentionally fearmonger and spread this false narrative that women won’t be able to receive life-saving care, not only are these blatant lies, but they also make women feel very scared. “, she said.

She pointed to Catholic hospitals that morally do not offer abortions, regardless of state laws.

“Even with Roe, they still dealt with ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages without abortions,” she said. “What we’re talking about are elective and induced abortions.”

The 50-year-old group of pro-life doctors has about 7,000 members, far fewer than the 60,000 who belong to ACOG, but Dr. Harrison said more than 80% of OB-GYNs don’t perform abortions , an indication that they “vote with their scalpel.

“The vast majority of us do not perform abortions. I’m not doing it because I know it’s not about health care,” she said.

She urged those concerned about tougher abortion laws to read the wording of the bills.

“Not one of them criminalizes a doctor for caring for a patient in a life-threatening situation,” Dr. Harrison said. “All this campaign of fear that is being done does not refer to reality. Read the actual text of the bills in your states.

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