New data from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reveals a staggering number of complications from drug-induced abortions, which are likely even more common than reported. Abortion advocates, meanwhile, continue to call the drugs safe and push for lower restrictions on them, including making them available over the counter.
Last month, the FDA reported 4,195 total adverse events experienced by women who took the abortion-inducing drug mifepristone, also known as Mifeprex, from 2000 through 2018. Of those, 1,042 women were hospitalized, 599 received blood transfusions, 412 women had infections—including uterine lining infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, and sepsis—and 24 died. Additionally, 97 women who had ectopic pregnancies took the drug.
Mifepristone is taken with the drug misoprostol to end a baby’s life and send the mother into labor. Pro-abortion advocates refer to the procedure as “medication abortion,” but Donna Harrison, director of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told me there is nothing medical about it.
“These 24 women are otherwise healthy women who are now dead because they took Mifeprex,” said Harrison, an OB-GYN physician. “[Abortionists are] giving you Mifeprex to kill your baby, and sometimes it kills you.”
She said the numbers of adverse events given by the FDA could represent fewer than 5 percent of the actual complications from mifepristone. For other drugs, she said, pharmaceutical experts estimate a complication reporting rate of only 5 to 10 percent. With mifepristone, it is probably lower because of the convoluted reporting process, Harrison said.
The FDA gets about 95 percent of its reports from the drug’s manufacturer, Danco Laboratories, which receives its reports from abortionists. Harrison said the mifepristone complication reports, which she is in the process of reviewing, lack the detail of a typical adverse event report, which would include a full patient history, exam, and lab results, among other details. Harrison is finding mifepristone event descriptions usually consist of only a couple sentences.
“No labs. No pre-op. No hospital course summary, nothing,” she said. “It’s just checking a box so that Danco can say it filed a report, but not with any content that would actually allow for any analysis of the event.”
Abortionists usually don’t see their patients after a complication. Abortion facility websites routinely tell women to go to an emergency room if they pass blood clots larger than a lemon. Doctors there might not know the woman is having complications due to an abortion, nor do they keep track of them for billing purposes.
“They code [medical bills] for hemorrhage. They code for miscarriage,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life. “It’s not surprising that their figures for deaths from surgical or chemical abortion are undercounted in the U.S. because of the filters in the public health system.”
While nearly always deadly for an unborn baby, chemical abortions are far more dangerous for mothers than surgical abortions. A 2009 study in Finland of 42,619 women who had abortions showed that chemical abortions led to a 20 percent chance of complications, while surgical abortions had a 5.6 percent chance.
Patrina Mosley, director of culture of life and family at the Family Research Council, told me that up to 10 percent of the time, chemical abortions don’t complete the process and an abortionist must surgically remove the dead baby to prevent infection.
“It’s very traumatizing,” Mosley said. “I don’t understand why something like this is still continually being marketed as safe.”
Meanwhile, abortion advocates are pushing for the FDA to relax its standards further for mifepristone. In 2016, the agency reduced the required dosage, dropped the number of required visits from three to two, and made it possible for a nurse practitioner to prescribe the drug. The number of drug-induced abortions skyrocketed as a result and now make up the majority of abortions in some states.
In California, the legislature is considering a bill that would require state college student health centers to dispense the drug. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a suit on behalf of a Hawaii abortionist and three medical groups to overturn FDA restrictions on the drug that prevent it from being available over-the-counter.
“With the medical abortions, these nurses and mid-level practitioners are not going to be handling the hemorrhages, the massive infections,” Harrison said. “They are going to dump their complications on the emergency room. If a surgeon did that, that would considered unethical behavior. And yet many abortionists simply dump their complications on the ER and say, ‘Somebody else will take care of that.’”