OBGYNs Warn Abortion Pills are Dangerous for Women, Especially Without a Doctor’s Visit

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Oct 6, 2022   |   12:47PM   |   Washington, DC

Two OB-GYNs warned this week that abortion groups are putting women’s and unborn babies’ lives at risk by “downplaying the risks” of mail-order abortion drugs.

Due to actions by the Biden administration, abortion facilities now may sell abortion drugs to women through the mail without ever seeing them in person. Instead, many chat briefly with the patient (or potentially an abuser) over the phone or computer before sending the abortion drugs through the mail.

In a new interview with the Catholic news site Aleteia, Drs. Donna Harrison and Christina Francis of the American Association of Pro-Life OB-GYNs said there are many reasons why Americans should be concerned.

“The push for telehealth distribution, or even pharmacy distribution, without a physical exam is something that’s going to cause an increase in harm for women,” Harrison said. “There’s real risk involved for women, and the abortion industry is downplaying those risks.”

The abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol typically are prescribed together to abort unborn babies up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. The Biden administration began allowing them to be sold through the mail last year without ever seeing a doctor in person. In England, which began allowing mail-order abortion drugs around the same time, new investigations show a huge increase in ambulance calls and reports of coercion and abuse.

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Harrison said one of the problems is estimating how far along women are in their pregnancy, and an ultrasound is the only way to do that accurately. Already in England, there are reports of late-term babies being born alive at home as a result of mail-order abortion drugs because their mothers did not realize how far along they were.

“If you have a pregnancy that is 49 days – that is, seven weeks or less – from the first day of the last menstrual period, then your chances of needing a surgical completion are about 1 out of 20,” Harrison told Aleteia. “But if you have a pregnancy that is just a few weeks later, like 13 or beyond, your chances of needing surgical completion are 1 out of 3.”

Without telemed/mail-order abortions, it’s also more difficult to detect life-threatening ectopic pregnancies, and abortion drugs do not treat ectopic pregnancies, Francis said. Emphasizing just how dangerous this could be, she said a woman may take abortion drugs with an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy and then mistake warning signs as symptoms of the abortion.

“I can tell you from personal experience caring for women who have ruptured ectopic pregnancies that within just a few hours they can go from feeling fine to being in hemorrhagic shock and facing death, so if you get this delay in care because she’s sitting at home thinking ‘Oh, they told me I was going to have some pain; they told me I was going to have some bleeding, and it’s all very normal,’ she doesn’t seek care,” Francis said.

She and Harrison said it also is difficult to screen women for coercion and abuse from a computer screen or phone call.

“There’s nothing to stop a boyfriend who wants his girlfriend to have an abortion. She refuses, and he gets ahold of [the abortion pills] and slips them into her drink,” Francis said.

LifeNews has reported a number of stories in recent years about sex traffickers, abusive partners and parents forcing or tricking pregnant women and girls into aborting their unborn babies. Even a midwife with the abortion chain MSI Reproductive Health recently told the BBC that recognizing coercion is a big problem among abortion providers, and the new mail-order abortion practice makes it even worse.

Both Francis and Harrison expressed concerns about the mental trauma that they are hearing about from post-abortive women, too.

Harrison said women often feel distraught after passing their aborted baby’s body at home and seeing its “legs, arms, head, toes. It’s not a blob of tissue. And women are not prepared for that.” She told Aleteia that women also have contacted them asking what to do with their aborted babies’ bodies.

“These women are being told to flush human tissue down into the septic system? Even from a public health standpoint it’s a terrible idea,” she said.

Abortion drugs are putting millions of women’s and unborn babies’ lives at risk. Mifepristone now is used for more than half of all abortions in the United States, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. In 2020, the drug was responsible for 54 percent of all unborn babies’ abortion deaths, up from 39 percent in 2017, the pro-abortion research group found.

In the United States, the FDA has linked the abortion drug mifepristone to at least 26 women’s deaths and 4,000 serious complications between 2000 and 2018. However, under President Barack Obama, the FDA stopped requiring that non-fatal complications from mifepristone be reported. So the numbers almost certainly are much higher.

The risks of the abortion drugs are more common than what abortion activists often claim, with as many as one in 17 women requiring hospital treatment. A recent study by the Charlotte Lozier Institute found that the rate of abortion-related emergency room visits by women taking the abortion drug increased more than 500 percent between 2002 and 2015.