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HuffPost promotes abortion pill with biased reporting that ignores risks

by | Aug 23, 2023

By Sam Dorman 

HuffPost published a glowing article about the abortion pill while sidestepping its dangers and downplaying the potential for hospitalization.

Published earlier this month, the article came from former Feminist Majority Foundation employee Alanna Vagianos and detailed one woman’s self-managed abortion in Ohio. It repeatedly used language framing the pill as an act of “resistance” or way of taking back control since the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

It also drew heavily from the pro-abortion group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) and its director, Dr. Daniel Grossman, who dismisses safety concerns while refocusing on the potential for legal action against women who undergo the pill regimen. 

At one point, Vagianos reports on the woman – known as “Julia” in the article – saying she would go to a hospital if the hemorrhaging got bad enough. “Self-managed abortion and a natural miscarriage are medically indistinguishable,” Vagiano adds.

But HuffPost was missing some important information, according to Dr. Christina Francis, who leads the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetrician Gynecologists. 

“It’s highly imprudent to encourage women to falsely tell emergency department staff that they are miscarrying when presenting for complications of chemical abortion,” Francis said in a statement to Live Action News last week. “Not only is it always better for healthcare professionals to have accurate information about a patient’s clinical situation, but also, induced abortion does not impact a woman’s body in the same way as miscarriage.

“For example, the chemical abortion drug mifepristone is known to suppress a woman’s immune system, placing her at greater risk of atypical sepsis that can be fatal if not recognized immediately.” 

Francis pointed to a 2022 study examining Medicaid data and tracking how abortion was miscoded as a miscarriage. It claims that “the number of admissions per patient was 78% higher in women whose chemical abortion was concealed.”

The abortion pill has been shown to be much more dangerous than how the media often portrays it. HuffPost described the abortion pill regimen as “a very safe, effective and increasingly common method” and cited the World Health Organization, which has openly espoused pro-abortion views.

Unfortunately, the Food and Drug Administration’s data on Mifeprex is woefully flawed and has come under considerable scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the Charlotte Lozier Institute’s examination of Medicaid data found that emergency room visits for chemical abortions increased 507% between 2002 and 2015. During that same time period, the rate for surgical abortion-related ER visits increased 315%. 

Those findings align with a 2009 study from Finland, which has a single-payer health system. The study compared the incidence and risk factors of adverse events after medical and surgical abortions, utilizing a sample of more than 40,000 events. It found a four-times higher incidence of adverse events with chemical abortions (20%) than with surgical abortions (5.6%). 

Grossman, whom HuffPost repeatedly quotes, has compared the abortion pill to Tylenol. He previously conducted a study with Medi-Cal data and found medication abortion had a 5.2% complication rate compared to 1.3% for first trimester aspiration abortions and 1.5% for second trimester abortions (also showing a 4x higher risk).

At no point did Vagianos mention Grossman’s positions in several pro-abortion organizations, including his role as senior advisor at a company funded by abortion pill manufacturer Danco and the Packard Foundation, which has invested in Danco. He’s also served as a NARAL board member and served on the editorial board of a journal published by the Society for Family Planning, which has also received funds from the Packard Foundation and the Buffett Foundation, a fellow Danco investor.

HuffPost described Julia’s abortion as causing a lot of pain with Julia feeling like she was “dying.” Many women have likewise testified that it was the worst pain of their lives:

After inserting the misoprostol pills vaginally, she had what she described as “pops of discomfort” in her abdomen. Not long after, the cramping started and she went to lay down. An hour later, she woke up shaking, sweating and in a lot of pain. She walked downstairs to the bathroom holding the walls because she was so dizzy.

“I felt like I was dying,” she says.

She sat on the toilet and passed six or seven blood clots, most of which were the size of her fist, she estimates. The largest one was about the size of a softball.

“Living on a farm, I see some really gnarly stuff, but seeing that much blood coming out of you… no one can prepare you for that,” she tells me. “As soon as that was done, though, I felt much better. I didn’t feel in danger at all. I didn’t feel scared.”

Vagiano later says that “[t]he color has come back into Julia’s face since I saw her earlier in the day. The cramps have stopped and now she’s bleeding as if she’s on her period. It’s heavy bleeding for her, but nothing a pad can’t handle.”

Julia obtained abortion pills through “advance provision,” or ordering pills prior to pregnancy, with Aid Access

The pill and its delivery via mail have received heightened attention as chemical abortions become more covert alternatives for abortion seekers in states that have enacted pro-life legislation after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs

The FDA has also taken the step of dangerously deregulating the abortion pill by removing the in-person dispensing requirement, a requirement Francis has said is critical to avoid life-threatening complications. HuffPost, however, lamented the ongoing legal battle after a Texas judge upended the pill’s FDA approval.

“Despite the fact that mifepristone has been safely used by millions of pregnant people for over two decades, a group of anti-choice doctors filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration late last year claiming that the FDA rushed the approval process for mifepristone,” Vagianos wrote. 

Again, it’s hard to know the full impact of the abortion pill in the U.S. given the inadequacy of FDA data, which the agency cited in its decision to remove in-person dispensing. The FDA itself has acknowledged it doesn’t “receive reports for every adverse event or medication error that occurs with a product.”

Editor’s note. This appears at Live Action News and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Abortion Pill