Abortion Pill

Many women seeking abortion pill underestimate gestational age, study finds

Secular Pro-Life has unearthed a 2014 study that has disturbing implications in light of current efforts to abolish the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s REMS safety requirements for mifepristone, one of the two drugs in the abortion pill regimen. It also raises concerns with regard to recent suggestions by some “experts” that the abortion pill should be dispensed prior to actual pregnancy — a scheme they call “advance provision.”

The study, which appeared in the journal Contraception, “sought to evaluate the accuracy of assessing gestational age … prior to first trimester medication abortion using last menstrual period … compared to ultrasound.” It found that up to 14.8% of women underestimated the gestational age of their babies; up to 11.8% of women who would have been eligible for chemical abortion based on estimated last menstrual period were discovered to be ineligible when given an ultrasound to verify gestational age.

Though some have experimented with the use of mifepristone later in pregnancy, the abortion pill is only approved for use in early pregnancy — its FDA-imposed REMS requirements mandate in-clinic dispensing by a doctor who has examined the mother to verify gestational age so that it is not used past the 10th week. This is a health and safety precaution, as complications, including failure, hemorrhage, and retained placenta increase as gestation progresses. 

For example, one 2016 study states that, although second-trimester chemical abortions constitute only 10-15% of total induced abortions worldwide, they are responsible for ⅔ of major abortion-related complications. In a 2004 study of women taking the standard mifepristone/misoprostol chemical abortion regimen between 13 and 21 weeks’ gestation, 8.1% required a subsequent surgical procedure to remove a retained placenta. And mifepristone’s own label information clearly reports a failure rate that increases roughly 2% with each successive week of pregnancy after the 7th week.

READ: Study suggests abortion pill complications are underreported, and ERs are managing the majority

If the abortion industry and the Biden-Harris administration have their way, REMS requirements on the abortion pill will be permanently lifted. They have already been temporarily suspended under the guise of safety/necessity due to the pandemic. Abortion advocates successfully peddled the idea that, although women all over the country have continued to go to in-person doctor’s visits for routine care, it is somehow too dangerous to physically see a doctor to get the abortion pill, which can kill the mother as well as the child, particularly when used improperly — an outcome that is far more likely when a doctor’s supervision is not part of the equation. 

Since the abortion pill became available via telemedicine in the UK, emergency calls for chemical abortion follow-up care have increased by 54%, and according to data from the National Health Service (NHS) Trusts and Foundation Trusts, approximately 6% of women taking the abortion pill have experienced complications serious enough to warrant hospital visits. These statistics do not account for the subset of women who did not admit to having taken the abortion pill, instead claiming to be naturally miscarrying. The actual statistics, though impossible to know, are likely to be higher than reported.

The study cited by Secular Pro-Life may shed light on the reason for the sharp increase. If women are not accurately estimating their last menstrual periods and are not being corrected by a doctor’s exam, this can lead to an increase in the number of women taking the abortion pill later in pregnancy than they should, when the complication rate is higher. Obviously this would result in more women needing emergency follow-up care due to complications.

The numbers clearly demonstrate that do-it-yourself abortions performed entirely without a doctor’s supervision — whether the pills are provided before or after pregnancy occurs — are a terrible idea and a blight on women’s health.

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