The real “knowledge gap”: ignoring the dangers of DIY abortions

By Dave Andrusko

So much for down-the-middle coverage of chemical abortions, also known as medication abortion. Yesterday, POLITICO ran a story headlined “Abortion advocates’ strategy depends on pills. An information gap threatens their efforts,” with a subhead “With SCOTUS decision looming, confusion and fear hinder post-Roe plans.” 

Get a load of this lead from the story by Alice Miranda Ollstein and Megan Merrerly: “Mail-order abortion pills could help millions of people discreetly terminate their pregnancies should the Supreme Court strike down Roe v. Wade in the coming months, providing a way to circumvent mounting state-imposed restrictions.”

“Discreetly terminate”? “Circumvent mounting state-imposed restrictions”? That would be nirvana for abortion advocates. But…

But the majority of patients and many doctors remain in the dark or misinformed about the pills, how to obtain them, where to seek follow-up care and how to avoid landing in legal jeopardy, according to medical groups, abortion-rights advocates and national polls.

This has left abortion advocacy groups “scrambling to get accurate educational, medical and legal information out about the pills to patients and providers.”

The remainder of Ollstein’s and Merrerly’s article outlines what abortion advocates doing to fill “knowledge gap.”

Is there anything—anything at all—the suggests/hints/intimates that there is a down side to chemical abortions? No, of course not. Abortion advocates and most journalists are two sides of the same coin.  

But we are doing our best to fill the real knowledge gap about the dangers of medication abortion, which the FDA unleashed last December when it eliminated the requirement that women go in person to the abortionist’s office. The drugs can be mailed to them—“Do It Yourself” abortions—whose dangers are simply not acknowledged.

States are tackling medication abortions in various ways. They propose to ban the pills altogether or require their state’s informed consent law to inform women that there is a good chance they can save their baby if they promptly changes course—Abortion Pill Reversal.

The success of the Abortion Pill Reversal depends on a woman being told—being informed–that there is a window of opportunity to reverse the effects of the lethal chemical if she seeks medical attention in time and does not take the second drug of the two-drug protocol.

What worries abortion advocates is that  pro-life states are requiring women to have an in-person meeting with the abortionist. As Addia Wuchner, Executive Director, Kentucky Right to Life, explained 

Without an in-person consultation between a pregnant woman or minor girl and a medical professional, not only is it difficult to assess any serious risk factors such as an ectopic pregnancy, but the door is also left wide open for vulnerable women and girls to be physically forced into an unwanted or quick decision on abortion. …

A woman facing an unplanned pregnancy deserves the opportunity to learn about her options other than abortion, and deserves for her reproductive health to be respected rather than thrown down to a mail-order solution for such a serious, life-impacting decision, such as terminating the life of her child.

National Right to Life has multiple sources on Do-I-Yourself abortions. They include our special report on DIY/Mail order abortion and our new factsheet on RU Safety and Efficacy, particularly addressing the special problems with DIY abortions.