Media’s fawning over ‘misoprostol-only’ abortion isn’t based on sound science

As Live Action News previously reported, the abortion industry is poised to begin widespread promotion of unapproved “misoprostol-only” chemical abortions if a pending lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) results in the banning of mifepristone, the first drug in the currently FDA-approved two-drug abortion pill regimen. Misoprostol is the second drug in that regimen.

Ms. Magazine recently published an article trumpeting the alleged “highly effective and medically safe” nature of misoprostol – which was designed for preventing ulcers – when used by itself for abortion. The article cites two studies to back up its claim that the misoprostol-only method is “effective and very safe” as an abortifacient. But neither study reliably proves what Ms. Magazine would have you believe.

A Shady “Scientist”

The first study cited by Ms. Magazine has several shortcomings. Not the least of these is the fact that Rebecca Gomperts, founder of multiple international abortion businesses, is a co-author. Gomperts’ abortion businesses dispense misoprostol as a standalone abortion drug, giving her an obvious vested interest in “proving” it to be “safe.” But this clear conflict of interest isn’t the only strike against Gomperts’ credibility as an objective scientist; she is also known for flouting international law, lying to the press, and even advising her clients to “lie to everybody” – including their own doctors – about having taken the abortion pill.

Truth is apparently not something upon which she places significant value. 

Naming Gomperts, who lacks credibility, as a co-author of the study casts doubt on the credibility of the study itself. But this is not the study’s only weakness. Follow-up data was only obtained for 60% of the women who received the drug; research has shown that women who fail to follow up after their abortions are more likely to have had negative experiences. It follows then, that this particular study did not “catch” every adverse outcome experienced by the women who received and used misoprostol alone for their abortions.

The 40% of women for whom the authors did have follow-up information constituted a small sample of merely 568 women — a somewhat small sample size from which to draw conclusions.

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Setting aside these limitations, the study actually didn’t report impressive performance results for the misoprostol-only protocol. While the standard, FDA-approved, two-drug mifepristone/misoprostol abortion pill regimen has a 96.2-97.4% efficacy rate when used as directed, this study found an 88% efficacy rate for misoprostol alone. Twelve percent of the women who took the drug required surgical intervention to complete their abortions.

Using these numbers to extrapolate, if all women taking abortion pills in the United States in 2020 had used misoprostol alone, over 59,000 American women would have had failed chemical abortions in that year alone, possibly followed by surgical procedures.

Suspiciously SAFE

The second study cited by Ms. Magazine – the so-called “SAFE Study” – has some of the same limitations as the first. Like the first study, the sample size of misoprostol-only participants is small, only 593 women. Again, this small sample is not sufficient to draw broad conclusions regarding drug efficacy.

Secondly, like the first study, the SAFE study is tainted by its associations and plagued by conflicts of interest. It was conducted by Ibis Reproductive Health, which has been funded by the eugenics-driven Population Council (the organization which first brought the abortion pill to the U.S. in 2000 and set up its manufacturer, Danco). The study itself was funded by the pro-abortion David and Lucile Packard foundation, which has invested in Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and NARAL, as well as Danco. This foundation clearly has a pro-abortion agenda and a desire to promote chemical abortion specifically. 

Lastly, the results of this study are not in line with other, similar studies, including the first study cited by Ms. Magazine. While the first study found an 88% efficacy rate, this study found a 99% efficacy rate, making it an extreme outlier among countless similar studies, which have tended to find efficacy rates in the ~74-87% range.

This alone suggests the study should be disregarded.

The Big Picture

Efficacy matters because it goes hand-in-hand with safety. Potential complications of a failed chemical abortion include infection, hemorrhage, and sepsis, which can be fatal.

In reality, Ms. Magazine – and many major players in the abortion industry – are pivoting to promoting misoprostol-only abortions, not because they are safe and/or effective, but because these parties are desperately clinging to the status quo. Abortion pills have been readily available for over two decades, and abortion advocates do not relish the possibility of having to relinquish this weapon against preborn humans from their arsenal. 

The real priority for those promoting misoprostol-only abortion is continued access to abortion, not women’s health — and they are willing to sacrifice the latter in order to perpetuate the former.

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