NRL News

After being sold lies about the safety of abortion pills, women find themselves in ER

by | May 11, 2023

By Dave Andrusko

Chemical abortions now account for the deaths of over 50% of the babies lost to abortion. There are many reasons for the huge increase but likely at the top is the blatant lie that “medication abortions” are “safe” and, indeed, “safer than Tylenol.”

We’ve written about chemical abortions literally dozens and dozens and dozens of times. The best work is produced by Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRLC’s Director of Education & Research.

Recently, he wrote, “When hundreds of thousands of women take these pills, even a couple of percentage points of women hemorrhaging, dealing with infections, or ectopic pregnancy, represents thousands of women desperately seeking treatment, which may or may not be nearby.” You can read NRLC’s white paper about the myths involving the FDA’s approval and management of mifepristone (generic for Mifeprex) here.

On Wednesday Ryan Mills of National Review Online wrote a very comprehensive, detailed overview of the dangers of chemical abortion in a post titled “Women Turn to Emergency Rooms after ‘Being Sold Lies’ about Abortion-Pill Safety”.  Let me just highlight a few of his findings.

He opens with the experience of Dr. Christina Francis, CEO of the board of the Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She tells Mills a story of a young woman who came in the labor and delivery unit of a Fort Wayne, Indiana hospital where Francis was working a few years ago. She was very ill and appeared to be in the early stages of acute kidney injury.

Mills writes

The woman, who arrived in the ER with a child, explained the situation to Francis: pregnant and desperate, she’d gone online and ordered a regimen of abortion pills. The website she ordered the pills from told her they would arrive in three to four weeks from India. She had not been given a thorough evaluation. She hadn’t been counseled about the risks involved with the pills. She didn’t even know the name of the drug she’d taken, Francis told National Review.

The woman needed a D&C, dilation and curettage surgery to empty her uterus. Francis had to call in a backup physician to handle another emergency back in the labor and delivery unit.

Fortunately, the woman survived, but Francis said her case

“highlights many of the problems with the increasing use of abortion pills: They’re often dispensed, in many cases online, without proper evaluations or counseling. The women who take the pills, often shocked by the bleeding and pain they experience, head to local emergency rooms for treatment. In some cases, they experience serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications. And they often don’t receive proper follow-up care, and in the case of many online pill providers, any follow-up care at all.”

There is a great deal more about the negative impact in Mills’ story. It is very much worth your time to read.

In recent years, the FDA has increased the dangers by making mifepristone much easier to get and has removed critical safeguards for women. 

For example, the FDA weakened the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) requirements for the drug to allow it to be dispensed and even mailed by pharmacies. According to the 5th Circuit opinion, prior to the changes made in 2012 and 2023, the “FDA removed four of the original safety restrictions by

(1) increasing the maximum gestational age at which a woman can use the drug from 49 to 70 days; (2) reducing the number of required in-person office visits from three to one; (3) allowing non-doctors to prescribe and administer the chemical abortions drugs; and (4) eliminating the requirement for prescribers to report non-fatal adverse events from chemical abortion.”

Though the pharmacies are still in the process of working through their REMS requirements, the teleabortion/abortion by mail people have been legally able to ship these pills to people’s homes for nearly two years now (not counting all the official “studies” and “trials” that had FDA approval before).

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing challenge to the FDA’s approval of the two-drug abortion-pill regimen back in 2000. Dr. Francis’s Association is one of the plaintiffs.

Ground zero for the fast-moving case was U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk’s April 7 decision to suspend FDA approval of mifepristone, the first of the two drug abortion regimen. He accepted the argument of the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine that the FDA had fast-tracked the approval of mifepristone through a process intended for the treatment of life-threatening illnesses

Judge Kacsmaryk issued a one week temporary stay to allow the government to appeal which it quickly did.

On April 12, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a partial stay, pending appeal. The 5th Circuit kept in place the portion of Judge Kacsmaryk’s order requiring the FDA to restore previous safeguards for chemical abortion drugs. The Biden administration appealed to the Supreme Court and on the following Friday the Supreme Court ordered a pause.

As it happens, 20 minutes after Judge Kacsmaryk handed down his decision, the Democratic attorneys general of 17 states and the District of Columbia won an injunction from U.S. District Judge Thomas Rice in Spokane. He issued a ruling “ordering the FDA to preserve access to mifepristone in those states, regardless of any conflicting court decisions,” barring the FDA from enforcing any additional restrictions on mifepristone in their states.

A hearing on the merits before the full Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals is slated for next week.

Categories: Abortion Pill