The Biden administration continues to endanger both women and unborn children by loosening the rules regarding the dispensation of chemical-abortion drugs. In December 2021, the FDA permanently continued the Covid-era policy of allowing women to obtain chemical-abortion pills without an in-person medical exam.
Then last week, the FDA announced that women could obtain chemical-abortion pills at retail pharmacies. Already, large pharmacies including Walgreen’s and CVS have indicated that they will offer chemical-abortion drugs.
A solid body of public-health research has demonstrated that chemical abortions pose serious health risks.
Two studies have found that chemical abortions have four times the complication rate as surgical abortions. One study used comprehensive data from the California Medicaid program from 2009 to 2010. Another analyzed 42,000 Finnish women who obtained abortions between 2000 and 2006. Loosening the regulations on chemical abortions will only increase those risks. If a woman has an ectopic pregnancy and obtains a chemical abortion, that could be fatal. If a woman is further along in gestation than she realizes and obtains a chemical abortion, that could pose serious health risks.
Indeed, recently updated FDA data provide further evidence of the health risks posed by chemical abortions. Between September 2000 and June 2022, chemical-abortion pills caused 28 deaths among pregnant women. Additionally, during the same period, chemical-abortion pills caused 414 infections, 616 instances of blood loss requiring transfusions, and 1,048 hospitalizations. Overall, in the past 22 years, the FDA has reported over 4,200 adverse events caused by chemical abortions. Given the lax abortion-reporting standards in the United States, this figure is probably higher.
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The new FDA policies allowing pharmacies to dispense chemical-abortion drugs raises additional safety concerns. That is because research shows that many pharmacists are unaware of both the complications caused by chemical-abortion drugs and state policies that regulate abortion. A 2021 article in the Journal of the American Pharmacists Association found that only 53 percent of pharmacists understood the risks of taking mifepristone and only 53 percent understood parental-involvement laws for abortion. Additionally, less than one third of pharmacists understood adverse effects, such as fever and chills, from chemical-abortion drugs.
Supporters of legal abortion have invested in a long-term strategy of expanding access to chemical abortion. These efforts have intensified after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. The new FDA rules allowing pharmacies to dispense chemical-abortion pills are simply their latest policy moves. In the near future, groups supporting legal abortion will likely litigate against state telemed-abortion bans — in the hopes of effectively making chemical abortion legal in states with protective pro-life laws. It is important that pro-lifers counter this latest push to promote chemical abortions through a combination of education, legislation, and litigation.
LifeNews Note: Michael J. New is a Research Associate at the Busch School of Business at The Catholic University of America and is an associate scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New