Abortion

How the FDA’s decision to allow the telemedical prescription of Mifepristone does (and does not) change abortion

Part Three: No Matter What Happens with the Law, Still Abortion

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

Editor’s note.  Part One addressed claims that at-home abortions would be easier and Part Two made clear that self-managed abortions will be more dangerous. In Part Three, Dr. O’Bannon will explore what role chemical abortions might play if Roe is overturned, or, short of that, the court allows much more meaningful limitations.

It’s a way to keep abortion going if laws impose limits.

In 2018, Megan K. Donovan, then senior policy manager for the Guttmacher Institute, wrote in the Guttmacher Policy Review (Vol. 21) that with new justices added to the Supreme Court and the future of Roe v. Wade in the balance, “self-managed abortion is sometimes positioned as a work-around or ‘last resort’ for a future scenario in which abortion access is severely limited.”

Nothing has diminished the industry’s enthusiasm for chemical abortions. In fact, with the Court’s open reconsideration of Roe and many states poised to add protections for unborn children to their laws, the brashness of the pro-abortion movement to use “self-managed” or Do-It-Yourself (DIY) home abortions as a way around the law has only gotten stronger.

The Lily (12/20/21) reported on Amelia Bonow of Shout Your Abortion, who famously claimed to have publicly taken mifepristone out in front of the Supreme Court as it heard Dobbs v Jackson (the case that could overturn Roe). She said, “We reject the idea that this court ever could have told us not to end our own pregnancies,” adding, “We are going to help each other have safe abortions forever, whether abortion is legal or not.”

She continued “If someone gets pregnant in a red state that has passed an abortion ban, I want that person to think, ‘I know how to find safe abortion care,’ rather than, ‘Oh no, abortion is illegal in my state’.”

Rebecca Gomperts is the Dutch abortion activist with Aid Access already in hot water with the FDA for illegally shipping abortion drugs to women in the U.S.  Online blog the Lily says Gomperts “suspectsthat U.S.-based doctors in states with liberal abortion laws, like New York and California, will start prescribing abortion pills for people in more restrictive states, as she [Gomperts and Aid Access] has been doing for years.”

Few go as far as Bonow and Gomperts and directly say that they’re going tell women in states where abortion (or abortion by telemedicine or mail) is illegal just to order their pills off the internet and manage their abortions themselves. But it is clear that the industry sees in home chemical abortions a way that women can ignore the law and have abortions anyway.

Though Gomperts said that FDA had seized shipments and sent letters to women who illegally ordered the pills (NPR, 9/9/19), others have noted that “State restrictions on the pills may prove impossible to enforce given that the drugs are already being shipped from overseas providers difficult to prosecute and are arriving at private homes in discreet packaging, or handed out through personal networks” (Politico, 12/15/21).

Texas is one of 19 states which have passed legislation to prohibit abortion by mail, in Texas’ case, by levying fines and holding out the possibility of jail time for the “providers” who ship those drugs to women in the state. Though enforcement will be a challenge, the postal service has laws on the books that it currently enforces prohibiting the mailing of illegal drugs. It is thought that the threat of prosecution will itself serve as a deterrent to buyers as well as sellers.

Despite the new sales pitch, it’s still abortion.

Despite the efforts of the industry to present the at home chemical abortion as a new improved product delivered in a new and different way, the truth is that the telemedical, DIY abortion is still just another abortion with the same aim and the same awful result – a dead baby and a wounded mother.

The U.S. abortion industry recognized it had a marketing problem when abortion rates began to fall in the early 1980s. Women became especially disenchanted with surgical abortion, the cutting, scraping of the sharp instruments inserted deep inside them, done in storefront offices by men and women treated as pariahs by their own community.

The novelty of “choice” had worn off, abortion had not solved a woman’s problems, and the evidence in the collection bottle showed that what was removed was so much more than a “blob of tissue.”

The avaricious abortion industry sought a neater, cleaner, less intimidating product, one that would make them look less like butchers and more like medical professionals. The idea that abortion could become something as simple as taking a pill and “poof,” the baby would disappear, was very attractive to them, something they could market to weary public and to wary colleagues.

The idea that these could involve younger, smaller, less developed babies was also a major selling point. Thus the idea of the chemical or “medical” abortion by pills took hold. Supposedly, all the “good” points about abortion, none of the bad. The manufacturing and the marketing teams kicked things into overdrive.

Of course, chemical abortion was nothing like they said. It was messy, it was complicated, it was exhausting, and it was dangerous.  And despite the hype, it was still abortion.

Women bleed more from chemical abortions than they do from surgical ones.  They involve at least two drugs, taken days apart, and take several days to complete. They are painful and difficult. They don’t work a significant portion of time, forcing a woman to take more pills, go for surgery, or to reconsider her options.

The failures and the complications are likely to be far more frequent with at-home abortions.

And, despite the industry’s best efforts to obscure the truth, women undergoing these chemical abortions often encounter their unborn children, and have talked about seeing their limbs, their eyes, their tiny bodies swirling in the toilet bowl or the shower drain.

Women who miscalculate their baby’s gestational age and take pills that came in the mail are likely to see older, more developed babies and have those memories stored away for nightmares.

The truth is that no matter the age of their baby or their stage of development, chemical abortion, like surgical abortion, involves the deliberate destruction of a unique, precious individual human life and no amount of spin can sugarcoat that.

Whether they see their child or not, women eventually come to know or at least sense that, once again, the abortion industry has sold them a bill of goods. It makes it plain that there is no clean, easy, socially or morally acceptable way to take the life of another innocent human being and not have it impact you or the world in which you live.

They sell it as freedom, as healthcare, as a new convenient option, but in the end, it’s still bloody, it’s still painful, it’s still complicated, and it’s still abortion.

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