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

NRLC Special Report, Part Three of Three

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

Editor’s note. We saw in Part 1 that the latest data does not support the contention that mifepristone is safer than common drugs like Tylenol, penicillin, and Viagra. In Part 2 , we showed why it doesn’t make sense to compare these life-saving, life-enhancing medications to abortifacients that are being used to destroy human lives. In today’s final installment we re-examine the risk profile of the abortion pill, finding it is much more dangerous than is commonly advertised.

Greatly underestimating mifepristone’s risk

The claim that mifepristone is four times safer than penicillin or ten times safer than Viagra depends not only on what may be an exaggerated risk for antibiotics or erectile dysfunction drugs, but also an overly rosy assessment of the abortion pill.

We have already noted that the CNN report relied on an older FDA report of adverse events associated with mifepristone. The risk climbs a bit when more recent deaths are added in. But this, of course, depends on deaths and other adverse events generally being reported to the FDA. There are real reason to believe the FDA misses a lot of incidents.

Missing a lot of data

The FDA admits up front it doesn’t catch a lot of complications. In its brief in the case of Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA (2023) the FDA admitted that “FAERS [the FDA’s Adverse Events Reporting System] data cannot be used to calculate the incidence of an adverse event or medication error in the U.S. population.”

One doctor compared adverse events data from Planned Parenthood from one year (2010) with adverse event data for the same year reported by the FDA and found that the FDA missed at least 866 adverse events from that provider alone (Planned Parenthood is believed to be responsible for perhaps 40% of the abortions performed in the U.S.).

Deaths connected to mifepristone would only be recorded by the FDA if they were recognized and reported as such. Yet some abortion pill providers anticipate that some patients may end up at the emergency room and openly caution them not to reveal that they have taken these drugs. Instead, women are told to say that they are experiencing a miscarriage.

Women may not even tell their families or partners that they have taken mifepristone and abortion providers tell women that doctors in the emergency room would not be able to tell from an examination that they have taken the drugs. This would presumably include coroners as well, making mortality figures reported by the FDA incomplete at best and gross underestimations at worst.

Selective reading of the data

CNN cites a 2015 study from University of Southern California, San Francisco abortion researcher Ushma Upadhyay as proof that serious complications from mifepristone/misoprostol are rare, amounting to about a third of one percent. She says this data show that these chemical abortions are even safer than “procedural” or surgical abortions.

Ignoring the danger of allowing an abortion advocate to spin her own data, CNN seems to have failed to read Upadhyay’s study more carefully. The study actually shows 5.19% of chemical abortion patients showing up at the emergency room reporting a complication of some sort, nearly seventeen times the complication rate Upadhyay chose to emphasize with the reporters.

How is this possible?

By narrowly defining what counts as a “major complication” to include “unexpected adverse events requiring hospital admission, surgery or blood transfusion,” but relegating complications like hemorrhage, infection, uterine perforation, and incomplete or failed abortions to the “minor” category.

Before dismissing these as minor complaints or statistical noise, one should consider that all of these “minor” events were sufficiently concerning to prompt more than a thousand women in this study to make a trip to the ER and seek emergency help.

Considering the broader range of complications, chemical abortion is decidedly riskier than either surgical abortion or even birth, contradicting CNN’s assertions to the contrary.

Other field data shows higher risk

The complication rate of 5.19% as found by Upadhyay is bad enough, but there is evidence that even that estimate is low. Researchers from Canada looking at nearly 40,000 abortion patients in Ontario between 2017 and 2020 using a similar pharmacy distribution system to the one recently being proposed here in the U.S. found nearly 10.3% of chemical abortion patients visited the emergency room with some concern or complaint (Annals of Internal Medicine, January 3, 2023).

Whether the Canadian figures reflect increased risk due to the looser protocol in use or simply reflect better reporting from a nationalized health system, we may never know. But it is clearly at odds with the rosier assessment abortion pill advocates and their media allies are reporting for the U.S.

We simply may start to see a lot more women suddenly showing up at their local emergency rooms gushing blood, fighting infections, or dealing with ruptured ectopic pregnancies. There could be a sudden unexplained rash of women dying from “miscarriages” or rare bacterial infections.

It will all make sense to those who are actually familiar with the drug and how it works. But those who have relied upon and reprinted the spin of the abortion industry will have some explaining to do.

In conclusion not nearly as safe as advertised

The same people who say that unborn babies do not feel pain, that they do not have brain waves, or a beating heart are now saying that abortion pills which could send at least one in ten women to the hospital emergency department are completely safe, even safer than common drugs like penicillin and Viagra.

The evidence does not support this contention. Those drugs save lives, relieve pain, and generally make life better. Mifepristone interrupts a healthy pregnancy, takes lives, causes incredible pain and copious bleeding, and puts a mother’s life and health at risk.

Women who have a more complete knowledge of chemical abortion or the related safety data know better than to trust the abortion pill advocates and their media allies on this.

The risk is just too great.