“Medication abortion” falsely and dangerously portrayed as “safer than Tylenol”

By Dave Andrusko

After I read “What is a medication abortion? 5 people share their experiences,” I wasn’t surprised that “abortion providers” (aka “reproductive health clinics”) congratulated Danielle Campoamor for her in-kind contribution to the cause.

Reporting for “TODAY Parents,” she prefaces her five accounts with the assurance that studies have shown that chemical abortions—which now account for over half of the abortions performed in the US—are “are safer than Tylenol and Viagra, and 14 times safer than childbirth.” 

Dr. Rebecca Miller, a  fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, also told Campoamor, “Serious complications that would require hospitalization happen in less than 1% of people who have a medication abortion,”This is the bogus Talking Point that is intended to end all discussion about safety.

Christina Francis is chair of the board of the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG). She has written extensively about the real danger—that posed by mifepristone/misoprostol. One example:

One of the largest studies to date, which analyzed high-quality registry data obtained from nearly 50,000 women in Finland, found that the overall incidence of immediate adverse events is four-fold higher for medical abortions than for surgical abortions. The same study showed that nearly 7% of women will need surgical intervention — a significant number when you consider there are nearly 900,000 abortions per year in the U.S., 40% of which are medication abortions.

Dr. Randall K. O’Bannon, NRL Director of Education & Research, also noted

Other studies, even some by abortion advocates, have found something similar — that chemical abortions have a much higher failure rate, that more of these women have complications, that more women show up in the emergency room needing surgical treatment for bleeding, to deal with “retained products of conception” — than what Dr. Miller reports here.

Campoamor celebrates the decision in December 2021 by President Biden’s FDA to end the requirement that women meet in person to obtain the two-drugs used in medication abortion. But what about if “you’re in one of the 19 states where this medication option is restricted through the mail?” “In those states, you’re forced to go in, in person,” says Melissa Grant, chief operations officer for Carafem, a chain of abortion clinics.

But Grant says “there are other ways to obtain a medication abortion — what is commonly referred to as a ‘self-managed abortion.”  These “alternative means, includ[e] ordering medications online or in stores from Mexico.”

Grant adds, “This avenue, however, comes with great legal risk” [true enough] but is incredibly cavalierly about the medical risks to women of ordering from Mexico or any other place online.

As for the accounts, they are what you expect. One woman has had three “medication abortions.” She explains

“The overwhelming reason for me choosing this method the first time was I wanted the privacy and comfort of the abortion happening at home and I was uncomfortable with the idea of a D&E procedure — it felt invasive and more uncomfortable since I would have to be in stirrups and undergoing a gynecological procedure, which I have never really enjoyed much. I chose the option for a second time because I was familiar with it and knew what to expect, and the third abortion I decided on a medication abortion mainly for privacy.”

Another woman said the “narrative” of abortion “led her to believe care was always ‘intrusive and traumatizing.’ So once she discovered medication abortion, she ‘immediately selected the option.’”

She concludes

“As was my experience, not everyone has access to a private space but it is important to create a sacred space to safely have an abortion. Just like I support creating a sacred space for other birth or reproductive health services, it is important that we honor individuals as they are terminating a pregnancy.”

What can you say to the “need” for a “sacred space” and to “honor” the elimination of an unborn child? 

I’m speechless.