By Dave Andrusko
It’s a day after I promised I’d write about it, but I hope you’ll agree analyzing abortion militant Jessica Valenti’s excusatory essay on the alleged wonderfulness of chemical (“medication”) abortions is worth the short delay. Her piece, which ran yesterday in the New York Times, carried the unintentionally self-condemning headline, “The Anti-Abortion Movement Can’t Use This Myth Anymore.”
Briefly, the gist of the argument from “the author of six books on feminism” is that, thankfully, we’ve reached the expiration date on the “excuse” that pro-lifers (and others) have used to require women to make an in-person visit to receive the first of two drugs (mifepristone) that make up chemical abortion technique.
Why? (All together) Because chemical abortion are proven to be safe, safe, safe. We’ll get back to this myth—and it is a myth– in a moment.
To be sure, such protective requirements are, in a FDA under the thumb of the Biden-Harris administration, about to vanish—and in Valenti’s view, none too soon. She begins
Last month, the [Biden-Harris] Food and Drug Administration announced that people [aka women] seeking abortion pills during the Covid-19 pandemic will no longer have to visit a doctor’s office to get a prescription. Under the Trump administration, patients were required to receive the first of the medication’s two doses in person, a mandate upheld by the Supreme Court in January. The new policy instead allows for telemedicine consultations and pills sent by mail.
This, Valenti opines
could also be a huge blow to the anti-abortion movement. Groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have been pushing the Biden administration to make the F.D.A.’s decision permanent. Last week, in a legal filing, the agency announced it was reviewing their restrictions on the medication.
And, of course, if abortion is safe, safe, safe and an in-person visit is no more than an unnecessary annoyance, we can expect the FDA will make the decision permanent. If there is “collateral damage”—additional deaths and serious complications—a small price to pay, no?
She makes a number of polemical points in her guest op-ed. For starters, pro-lifers (of course) only fake concern for abortion-minded women. Tell that to the 2,700 pregnancy help centers or to legislators who only require that the abortion transmission belt be slowed down enough for a woman to take a breath before finalizing a life-and-death decision.
For another, by definition—hers and her fellow pro-abortion ideologues—there can be no negative aftershocks from chemical abortions or, for that matter, surgical abortions. Of course there are plenty of studies that do demonstrate that women can and do have physical and emotional and psychological after effects.
When pro-abortionists grudgingly concede the point, they airily announce the percentage is miniscule and that these women had preexisting problems anyway.
For still another, even proponents of chemical/medication abortions acknowledge that they often are extremely painful and bloody. But that’s only part of it.
Almost two dozen deaths have been associated with chemical abortion as well as thousands and thousands of “adverse events”—figures which are not up to date but which go back years.
This leads us into the aforementioned issue of safety. Valenti flatly announces that “Medication abortion is safer than over-the-counter ibuprofen, with serious complications occurring in about 0.5 percent of patients. Multiple studies have also confirmed the efficacy of abortion consultation via telemedicine.”
As Dr. Christina Francis wrote
Inexplicably in 2016, the FDA stopped collecting data on non-fatal adverse events and has only collected data on maternal deaths related to Mifepristone. They have chosen to completely ignore the thousands of women who are showing up in their local emergency rooms due to heavy bleeding, retained tissue, infection, or other complications as a result of medication abortions. A recent analysis of the Adverse Events submitted to the FDA with the REMS [Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy] in place shows over 3000 women suffering with complications, of which 24 of these women died, and another 500 would have died if they had not reached emergency medical care in time. These numbers will only increase if the current REMS, which require that a woman be seen and evaluated by a licensed healthcare practitioner prior to receiving the medications for an abortion, are removed. This requirement is not restrictive – it is protective.
Moreover, as National Review Online countered, Valenti
cites one study which appeared in the journal Contraception in 2012. However, a 2015 study that appeared in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which used comprehensive data from California’s Medicaid program, found that chemical abortions had four times the complication rate of first-trimester surgical abortions. …Since abortion reporting requirements in the United States are weak, the actual numbers are likely higher.
I agree with a colleague who pointed out that “Appropriately, the author publishes a newsletter called ‘All in Her Head’ which is where this piece should have remained.”