As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration prepares to issue a decision on the official handling of abortion pill safeguards, the author of a new study is sounding the alarm over reported dangers posed by the abortion pill.
The pill is a combination of two drugs known as mifepristone and misoprostol that, taken over the period of a few days by women who are no more than 10 weeks pregnant, will induce an abortion.
It’s an increasingly used alternative to the early surgical abortion options available to women, with The New York Times reporting 2017 estimates that 60% of eligible early-term abortion patients choose it over surgical options.
The government has traditionally required women to receive mifepristone — the first dose of the abortion regimen — at medical clinics, though this requirement was lifted by the Biden administration during COVID-19 pandemic. FDA officials are slated to make a more permanent decision on the matter later this month.
Despite loosening restrictions, some critics have warned that chemical abortion should have more — not fewer — restrictions and safeguards employed around its distribution and use.
Dr. James Studnicki, vice president of data analytics at the the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told Faithwire these pills present a potential public health crisis, especially as the FDA weighs whether to continue requiring women to receive these pills in person.
“What the abortion industry is asking the FDA to do is essentially de-medicalize abortion pills … take away the necessity of medical oversight in various stages,” Studnicki said. “What the industry wants is to have women be able to order the pills online, anonymously, receive them in the mail and ingest them at home really without the involvement … that usually comes with an induced abortion now.”
Listen to Studnicki’s research and explanation:
The researcher said the issue is of particular concern, because abortion pill usage rose within the study population from 4.4% to 34.1% during the range of the study — and will potentially continue to gain traction. Those numbers become more of an intensive concern when other findings are taken into account.
Studnicki and his team observed more than a 500% increase in abortion pill-related emergency room visits when they analyzed longitudinal data collected from 2002 through 2015. The range was chosen based on the availability of chemical abortion, which commenced in Sept. 2000.
The research team is the first group of “researchers to utilize Medicaid claims data to conduct a 17-year longitudinal analysis of 423,000 confirmed abortions and 121,283 confirmed subsequent visits to an emergency room within 30 days of the abortion by women over 13 years of age.”
Studnicki believes the findings should concern anyone who cares for the health and wellbeing of women, noting that emergency room visits for chemical abortions are “increasing about twice as fast as are the visits for early surgical appointments.”
“It’s a startling figure and what it says basically is that the industry needs to be concerned about all women who have abortions,” he said. “Because women who have induced abortions are coming to the emergency room at an increasing rate.”
Watch the Faithwire team discuss this important issue:
Proponents of the mifepristone abortion drug have welcomed the possibility of a mail-order option, arguing that the drug is safe. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is among those organizations.
“Mifepristone itself has demonstrated, through both clinical study and decades of use, to be a safe, effective medication,” the president of the organization said in a statement. “Requiring the medicine to be dispensed in person, then taken elsewhere at the patients’ discretion, is arbitrary and does nothing to bolster the safety of an already-safe medicine.”
The debate over chemical abortion comes as the Supreme Court weighs the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health abortion case, the battle over a Mississippi abortion law that restrictions abortion at 15 weeks.
Some might see loosening restrictions on chemical abortion as a potential loophole or workaround of this case, especially if the High Court votes to throw out Roe v. Wade or to restrict abortion in some other way in the first term.
The FDA is expected to make a decision surrounding chemical abortion safeguards around Dec. 16.
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