More than 70 House Democrats led by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) recently introduced a resolution urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to permanently lift longstanding requirements that chemical abortion drugs be obtained in-person. This follows an April decision by the Biden Administration FDA to temporarily lift the in-person restrictions on chemical abortions for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What does this mean? Mail-order abortion.
Instead of following the science, the Biden Administration and House Democrats are doggedly ignoring the science. There is a considerable body of research demonstrating the increased health risks of chemical abortion drugs. A recent peer-reviewed national study, written in part by scholars at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, found that more than 20 women have died as a result of the RU-486 chemical abortion pill since it was approved by the FDA in 2000. The study also found women taking these pills have suffered nearly 2000 severe complications, over 500 of which were life-threatening. Considering that abortion reporting requirements in the United States are weak, there were assuredly additional complications that went unreported.
Additionally, two separate academic studies analyzing the health outcomes of thousands of women found that chemical abortions have a complication rate four times the complication rate for surgical abortions. One study which appeared in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2009 analyzed records of 42,000 Finnish women who obtained abortions between 2000 and 2006. The other study, which also appeared in Obstetrics and Gynecology, analyzed a dataset of over 50,000 California Medicaid patients who obtained abortions between 2009 and 2010.
Mail-order abortions – the use of dangerous chemical abortion pills without in-person medical supervision – will only increase these risks. For example, multiple peer-reviewed studies show that up to half of pregnant women miscalculate the date of their last missed period. Yet taking abortion pills beyond 10 weeks’ gestation poses significant health risks – a scenario that becomes more likely if a pregnant woman does not confirm her due date via ultrasound. Obtaining a chemical abortion while pregnant with an undiagnosed ectopic pregnancy also poses very serious health risks – including death.
New research from the United Kingdom raises additional concerns about the safety of telehealth abortions. In early 2020, the U.K. began allowing women to obtain chemical abortions via telemedicine. Researcher Kevin Duffy found that between 2019 and 2020, emergency calls for follow-up care after a chemical abortion increased by 54 percent. Ambulance responses for chemical abortions rose by 19 percent.
As abortion centers continue to close all over the country thanks to pro-life efforts, the abortion industry has aggressively promoted chemical abortions as a way to skirt state and local regulations. In fact, according to the CDC, chemical abortions increased from 27 percent to 40 percent of all abortions between 2015 and 2018.
It is reprehensible, but unsurprising, that the abortion industry is ignoring the science and taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to eliminate safeguards on dangerous chemical abortion drugs. If successful, this effort by Congresswoman Maloney and other Congressional Democrats will only serve to subject women to increased health risks and lead to the deaths of countless unborn children.
Dr. Michael New is an associate scholar at Charlotte Lozier Institute. His extensive research and writing is focused on the social science of pro-life issues.
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