Behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions: Reason #1 of 5

By Randall K. O’Bannon, Ph.D., NRL-ETF Director of Education & Research

Editor’s note. On Wednesday Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon provided NRL News Today readers with a succinct explanation of the “5 Reasons behind the Abortion Industry Push for Chemical Abortions” .   As promised, Dr. O’Bannon will flesh out one of the five reasons each day beginning today and extending through next Wednesday. Chemical abortions are a crucially important “growth center” for the Abortion Industry.

RU486Reason #1. To Give Abortion an Image Makeover

Those who work every day aborting women knew that whatever ignorance existed about surgical abortion in the early days after abortion’s legalization quickly began to die off once women experienced the pain, the indignity, the intimidating reality of surgical abortion.

Women were telling the media they found the procedure “impersonal,” “mechanical,” “invasive,” “abrupt” (Boston Globe, 5/8/95) the surgery “intimidating” (NY Times, 10/28/94), and feared (legitimately, it turns out) that the “cutting” and “scraping” could lead to future infertility (Contraceptive Technology Update, April 1995).

They said they found the whole process demeaning.  The April 1995 issue of Contraceptive Technology Update described it this way:

“[a woman] up on a table exposing her most intimate, private parts of herself and having someone else introduce instruments in a very scary way into this very private part of herself.”

The fact that chemical abortions were not surgical abortions, not surprisingly, was one of the major selling points in the press release the abortion pill’s sponsor put out announcing the beginning of trials in 1994.  Calling use mifepristone “safe,” telling women it was like a “natural miscarriage,” the Population Council assured women that “medication abortion avoids a surgical procedure.” The Council specifically claimed that “There are no risks of anesthesia or uterine perforation or cervical canal injury, rare complications of surgical abortion” (Population Council release, 10/27/94).

The media fed this fantasy of some easy chemical way to solve a woman’s problems and avoid all surgical fears. Early on, women’s magazines were touting RU-486 as some sort of nearly magical “unpregnancy pill” – “Imagine being pregnant, swallowing a pill, and – presto! – not being pregnant any longer” wrote Sue Halpern of Ms. Magazine (April 1987).

That the pill did not live up to the hype–that it took longer, was indeed bloodier, more painful, and far more dangerous than women had been led to believe–was of little consequence to the abortion industry, which was able to market the “new and improved” product to a new, though largely misinformed customer base.

Angie Jackson, who infamously “livetweeted” her chemical abortion in February of 2010, told her followers she expected the whole thing to be over within four to eight hours after taking her last pills. “Dr. on Thursday, miscarriage on Friday,” she said.

Six days later, she was admitting that “This has turned into a marathon I hadn’t expected… takes longer than I thought it would.” Repeated tweets about the cramps and the bleeding and all the pain pills Angie took (Day 10 “most pain so far..ibuprofin [sic] is a joke, y’all”) continued for several days more before the actual abortion took place.

RU-486 abortions can be very dangerous, even lethal. Fourteen women had died in the U.S. and more than 600 plus have ended up hospitalized. More than two thousand women have needed transfusions, dealt with infections, had ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or faced severe side effects. As Jackson’s not entirely unusual experience reminds us, these chemical abortions often take days, not hours, and they are extremely bloody and painful. And dangerous.

These features are not the sort that are featured in advertisements or promotions of the drug. But the industry is able to tap into women’s fears about surgery and market the myth of a magical medicine that avoids those issues and promises a quick and easy solution to her problem.

The new image is enticing, enabling the industry to sell a lot of abortions.  A lot of those women only find out the reality after they’ve bought the hype.

On Friday, Reason #2 why the Abortion Industry Pushes for Chemical Abortions: Younger babies are easier targets.