The Biden-Harris administration is putting the health and safety of women at risk to advance its extreme abortion agenda. The Food and Drug Administration recently suspended mifepristone’s risk evaluation and mitigation strategy enforcement, making chemical abortion pills available without in-person medical consultation and abandoning its responsibility to protect women and girls from these dangerous drugs.
Acting under cover of COVID-19 precaution, the FDA is diverting women to a riskier abortion procedure, even though the foreseeable harms would far outweigh any supposed benefit. The benefits of chemical abortion for abortion providers? It is lucrative and requires few skills. The benefits for a woman? There are none.
Chemical abortion takes much longer, causes more pain and bleeding, and often results in emotional trauma from visualization of a woman’s deceased child, who often has easily identifiable organs such as eyes, ears, hands, and feet. Additionally, the risk of complications is 4 times greater with chemical abortion compared to surgical abortion, affecting as many as 1 out of 5 women. These complications can be serious or even fatal for women without immediate access to emergency medical care.
Chemical abortion first cuts off hormonal support, causing fetal death, and then induces uterine contractions to expel the dead baby. The abortion pill can fail to evacuate all the tissue, putting women at risk of infection and hemorrhage, often resulting in the need for surgery.
The FDA does not require abortion providers to report adverse events from chemical abortion unless it results in a woman’s death. This failure to collect accurate adverse-event data is meant to deceive. Abortion advocates publish biased studies that claim there is no risk to women, similar to the studies published by the tobacco industry denying an association between smoking and lung cancer.
Better quality international records-linkage studies and meta-analyses prove otherwise, however. These studies demonstrate a high failure rate of chemical abortion, with as many as 8% failing in the first trimester, requiring surgery. Failures skyrocket to 40% if chemical abortion is used in the second trimester due to underestimation of gestational age.
These failure rates are not negligible. Many of the women with failed abortions will not return to the abortionist but will present to emergency rooms bleeding heavily, often requiring immediate surgery and sometimes hospitalization for blood transfusion or IV antibiotics. For women with limited access to emergency care, the very women to whom these abortions are being promoted, the toll of these complications will be much higher.
The FDA decision will end required physical examination, ultrasound, and laboratory testing before pills are prescribed. Black market chemical abortion pills will be ordered over the internet, unverified pills distributed by mail, and pills may be ultimately available over the counter without direct physician involvement. Abortions are moving from the clinic to the dorm bathroom, demonstrating the prioritization of widespread abortion access over the health and safety of women and girls.
When safety regulations such as REMS are ignored, women and girls will suffer. Increased availability of abortion pills in any community will increase illicit use by those intent on harm, including sex traffickers, incestuous abusers, and coercive partners. Failure to document gestational age accurately will result in far higher failure rates of intended abortions and increased medical emergencies for these victims.
Without confirmation by ultrasound, ectopic pregnancies will be missed, leading to rupture and catastrophic bleeding or death. If a woman’s Rh status is left unchecked and indicated immunoprophylaxis is not given, future pregnancies may be at serious risk. If isoimmunization develops, untreated infants may be stillborn or suffer neonatal death or brain injury.
This should not be a pro-life versus pro-choice issue. Unsupervised chemical abortion is dangerous for women and should never be allowed by a nation that truly cares for the health and well-being of its citizens.
Ingrid Skop, M.D., has been a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist for 25 years and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Charlotte Lozier Institute associate scholar. Cindy Hyde-Smith, a member of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, has represented Mississippi as a Republican in the U.S. Senate since 2018.