In May, a New York Times opinion piece listed all the supposed reasons why the abortion pill regimen should be mailed out to women, allowing them to take the two drugs (mifepristone and misoprostol) at home without medical supervision. The article noted, “For millions of women across America, abortion access was already severely limited – the result of restrictive new laws that have forced dozens of clinics to close their doors. Now, with the spread of COVID-19, some states have classified abortions as ‘nonessential,’ putting access to the procedure even further out of reach.”
The Times endorses abortions that take place at home
The article correctly stated that the landscape for chemical abortions changed significantly with FDA approval of the first pill in the two-pill abortion regimen, mifepristone, in 2000. The author wrote, “Suddenly, what had previously required a surgical procedure could be done safely and effectively anywhere a woman chose.” The claim that the abortion pill regimen leads to “safe” and “effective” abortions is concerning, given documentation otherwise, as explained here, here, here, here, here, and here. Certainly Monty Patterson, father of teenager Holly Patterson, who died of septic shock after taking the abortion pill regimen in 2003, would disagree that the abortion pill regimen is safe for women to take at home without medical supervision.
The Times opinion piece noted that (emphasis added), “Now, as stay-at-home orders further impede access to clinic-based abortions, prominent voices – including those of attorneys general from 21 states, a former FDA official, and The Times editorial board – have joined calls for the FDA to act,” by allowing the abortion pills to be mailed by abortion facilities to patients’ homes.
The Times’ own editorial board, “Make Abortion More Available During the Pandemic – Not Less,” opined, “It’s hardly new for anti-abortion politicians to seize on any excuse to try to restrict women’s bodily autonomy, but it is a new low to exploit a pandemic that’s already cost hundreds of American lives, and threatens many thousands more.” Apparently the irony of pushing an abortion pill regimen that kills preborn humans as a vital need amidst the horrific loss of life due to a pandemic was lost on The Times’ board. In addition to calling for abortion pills to be made available by mail, the board urged for lawmakers not to criminalize women who seek abortions, to make birth control available for all, and finally, to “help women pay for abortions.”
The Times laments miscarriages that happen at home
And yet, on July 29th, the New York Times published a piece rightfully lamenting that “During the Pandemic, More Women Must Miscarry at Home.” Miscarriage occurs in around 10% of pregnancies, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and roughly 80% of those occur during the first trimester. The article noted that traditionally, women have had three options for managing a miscarriage: “[A]llow the body to pass pregnancy tissue on its own, take pills at home that induce severe cramping and bleeding to expel the tissue, or undergo a surgical procedure known as a dilation and curettage, or a D&C. The procedure involves opening the cervix and removing tissue from the uterus.” During the pandemic, few D&Cs have been performed, leaving many women to take medication if they do not pass their baby’s remains on their own.
The Times article documented the devastating experience of a woman named Elena, who endured a miscarriage of first trimester twins. After learning in March that her babies did not have a heartbeat and were not developing normally, Elena was first told to wait for her body to pass the babies naturally. After several weeks had gone by without this happening, she was then given misoprostol in early April. In her case, the misoprostol was intended to induce contractions to deliver her babies, who had already died. In an abortion, by contrast, mifepristone is given to induce death, and then misoprostol is given to expel the fetal remains.
The article correctly noted that “‘a miscarriage is not actually a single event, rather an agonizing experience that can last for days, sometimes weeks.” Elena had to take misoprostol twice when the first dose didn’t work, and then bled so badly that she had to wear a diaper to bed. Though she thought she had passed everything the day after the second dose, she found out over a month later that she still had placental tissue inside her. She told the Times, “This whole time I’ve had dead twins inside of me.” In June, she finally had a D&C, and received antibiotics for a uterine infection caused by the retained tissue.
The Times also documented another woman’s experience. “First [Safa] took painkillers and then the miscarriage pills, which had to be inserted vaginally. She curled into a ball on her bed, pressed a heat pad against her lower abdomen and a cold towel across her forehead and waited it out. She was dizzy and nauseous, either from the painkillers, miscarriage medication or both. Then came the bleeding.” Safa would go on to experience intermittent heavy bleeding for days, and according to the article, women can bleed off and on for months after taking misoprostol. The article summarized, “Not being able to surgically complete a miscarriage is one of many harsh realities women have endured during the pandemic.”
How can the New York Times mourn the “harsh realities” of miscarrying at home, and simultaneously advocate that women take the abortion pill regimen at home?
As noted above, miscarriage sometimes involves “[taking] pills at home that induce severe cramping and bleeding to expel the tissue.” This is what happens when the abortion pill is taken as well, except that in an abortion, the child is actively being killed and has not died naturally. Women have experienced significant bleeding, pain, nausea, and even sepsis after taking the abortion pill.
Why would the Times want more women to experience bleeding and pain in their homes that miscarrying women like Elena and Safa did? Elena and Safa had already lost their children, and were only taking misoprostol to pass their remains. But during chemical abortions, the woman’s home is turned into a place of induced death for her preborn child.
Either it is a bad thing for a woman to suffer the death of her child along with bleeding and pain alone at home… or it isn’t. The New York Times can’t have it both ways.
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