Claims that Mifepristone is “Safer than Viagra, Penicillin, or Tylenol” Don’t Withstand Scrutiny

NRLC Special Report, Part Two of Three

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

Editor’s notePart One gave us more current data on Tylenol, penicillin and Viagra, making it plain that the abortion pill’s defenders are exaggerating those common drugs’ risks and underplaying risks associated with mifepristone.  Today, we’ll consider why it doesn’t even make sense to compare drugs which save lives or make life better and those that are designed to take human lives 

Different drugs, much different purposes

Even if, just for the sake of argument, we were to assume that the death rate for mifepristone was lower than whatever the real death rate for penicillin and Viagra might be, it isn’t clear that this would give mifepristone a more favorable cost/benefit ratio than either of those other drugs.

It is one thing for a very sick person at death’s door to take a drug that should cure her or him but has a remote chance of making a condition worse, and another entirely for an entirely healthy person to take electively a drug that will expose him or her to a small but serious risk.

Penicillin’s benefits outweigh the risks

A woman taking penicillin or another antibiotic is already struggling with an infection that, if not treated, may well threaten her life. In most cases, especially if she has been carefully screened by her prescribing physician, that antibiotic will work, fully justifying whatever risk the prescription might have entailed.

This is even with the understanding that there will be times that, should the bacteria she is fighting prove particularly virulent, the antibiotic may not be powerful enough to save her life so that she succumbs to the infection.

This is still the case should she be one of those who, on extremely rare occasions, have an unexpected allergic reaction to the drug that inadvertently launches her towards death’s door. Even given that possibility, the seriousness of her original condition and the promise the drug offers the vast majority of people, warrants the risk of giving her the most powerful medicine in the doctor’s arsenal.

Whatever the actual level of risk associated with penicillin, it is more than balanced by the millions upon millions of lives that it has saved.

The same cannot be said for mifepristone, whose very purpose is the destruction of human life.

Pregnancy is not a disease to be “cured” by mifepristone

The situations with penicillin and mifepristone could not be more different. The risks must consider the radically different contexts.

We must start with acknowledging that there is nothing wrong with a woman who is pregnant. Pregnancy is not a disease or an illness but a natural, normal healthy part of many women’s lives for which their body is particularly suited and structured.

If anything, it is the interruption of that process that poses one of the greatest dangers to her health, something that would be more apparent if there were better records of abortion’s physical and psychological aftereffects.

Mifepristone, the drug she takes, along with the prostaglandin misoprostol that is part of the chemical abortion package, blocks the activity of progesterone, one of the body’s key pregnancy hormones, and stimulates powerful, painful contractions and heavy bleeding to kill and force out the womb that child who should be safe and thriving.

The drug she takes will cause that healthy woman to double over with pain, gush blood, and end the life of her healthy, growing child. This is hardly the profile of a “safe” drug – making a woman worse off in many ways than before she took the drug.

Restoring or interfering with a natural function

It is a different case with Viagra, but here again is a comparison where the circumstances and the risk assessments are significantly different.

It is one thing, after consulting with a doctor, for a person with a treatable health condition that negatively interferes with their quality of life to take a drug that could remedy that condition with minimal risks. But it is quiet another for a healthy person whose body is functioning perfectly to take a drug which throws their entire body into bloody, painful disequilibrium and can send her, as well as thousands of others like her, to the emergency room.

While it may be argued whether treating erectile dysfunction with a relatively benign drug qualifies as elective in the strictest sense, it is clearly the case that pregnancy is not a disorder requiring treatment and that abortion is rarely a medical necessity. If a pregnant woman is facing a medical emergency, mifepristone is not typically considered the ideal choice, owing to the length of time it takes to work and its broad range of effects and side effects. It does not work in circumstances of ectopic pregnancy.

Again, rather than treating a serious medical condition or pressing disorder, mifepristone and misoprostol can actually induce some sort of medical crisis (copious bleeding, painful cramping, etc.) in a healthy woman as part the drugs’ very mode of operation.

As long as it is not too great, most people consider it appropriate to take on a certain level of risk when facing a significant medical crisis or even when dealing with some condition that interferes with normal healthy human functioning. But giving a perfectly healthy pregnant mother pills that will intentionally induce significant pain and bleeding that can easily turn into something much worse is a different level and category of risk entirely.

It doesn’t really compare.

Editor’s note. Part Three will run on Wednesday.