". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


3 Myths Surrounding the Abortion Drug Now before the Supreme Court

March 25, 2024

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), determining whether the FDA must reinstate the safety standards for the abortion drug mifepristone.

Because mifepristone carries life-threatening risks such as hemorrhage, infection, retained fetal parts, the need for emergency surgery, and even death, after its FDA approval in 2000, the pro-abortion Clinton administration placed certain safety requirements around the drug. Later known as the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS), these safety requirements stated that mifepristone was approved for use up to seven weeks, mandated that the abortion drug only be dispensed in certain health care settings under the supervision of a certified licensed physician who could diagnose pregnancy complications and determine the gestational age, and required the manufacturer to report all complications to the FDA.

Changes by the Obama administration in 2016 and the Biden administration in 2021 approved the drug up to 10 weeks — no longer required in-person dispensing by a physician, but instead, allowed any “health care provider” to dispense (and to do so even through the mail), and removed the adverse complication reporting requirement.

The FDA’s reckless endangerment of women is based on three major myths. Here are the facts:

Myth #1: Women who take chemical abortion drugs do not experience serious complications.

According to the FDA’s own label, approximately 1 in 25 women visit the ER due to complications from mifepristone abortions. That means roughly 20,000 women each year visit the ER following a mifepristone abortion. That’s a lot.

The abortion industry perpetuates the myth that mifepristone abortion is safe by relying on faulty data. Between 2000 and 2021, 4,207 adverse events related to chemical abortions were reported to the FDA, but that number only includes those voluntarily reported, as in 2016 the FDA removed the requirement for prescribers to report non-fatal adverse events.

Despite this change in reporting requirements — the FDA label has continued to state that 2.9-4.6% of women visit the ER following a mifepristone abortion.

The FDA has always known this drug is dangerous for women and their children, and the agency removed safety precautions anyway.

Myth #2: Mifepristone can legally and safely be distributed through the mail.

Federal law prohibits the mailing of any “article, instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing which is advertised or described in a manner calculated to lead another to use or apply it for producing abortion.”

So, mailing mifepristone is very clearly illegal.

Moreover, the original safety measure requiring in-person dispensing of the drug by a licensed physician was meant to protect women’s health and safety, and here’s how:

Ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg, rather than implanting to the lining of his or her mother’s uterus, instead implants and begins to develop outside of the womb. In all of these pregnancies, the embryo will die.

Ectopic pregnancies occur in 2% of pregnancies but account for 13% of all maternal deaths. Half of women with ectopic pregnancies have no risk factors, and ectopic pregnancies that go undiagnosed may rupture, leading to life-threatening hemorrhage. Ectopic pregnancy can only be ruled out with ultrasound. When a mother takes mifepristone without knowing that her pregnancy is ectopic, the drug regimen does not affect the embryo, and the embryo will continue to grow. A mother experiencing the severe pain caused by fallopian tube rupture may mistakenly think it is a consequence of her abortion — not a sign of a life-threatening complication of ectopic pregnancy. Sending mifepristone through the mail puts the lives of women with ectopic pregnancies in grave danger.

Additionally, Rh negative pregnant women who do not receive prophylactic Rhogam and undergo an abortion using mifepristone may experience isoimmunization, a condition where the mother’s immune system attacks future pregnancies. Left untreated, 14% of affected infants conceived by mothers with isoimmunization are stillborn, and half suffer neonatal death or brain injury. While an in-person visit would easily detect if a woman is Rh negative, sending pills through the mail prevents this.

Finally, there is a great potential for drugs sent through the mail to be misused because there is no way to verify who is consuming the medication and whether they are doing so willingly. There is substantial evidence indicating that some women are either forced to take the medication or do so unknowingly. From a mother who attempted to force her daughter to take mifepristone, to abusive boyfriends pressuring, forcing, or secretly making their girlfriend take mifepristone, to an adulterous husband attempting to trick his wife into taking the drug multiple times, without an in-person dispensing requirement mifepristone has been used as a tool of abusers.

Myth #3: The gestational age at which a woman has a chemical abortion doesn’t matter.

Planned Parenthood’s own website indicates that at eight weeks of pregnancy or less, mifepristone works 94-98% of the time. By 10-11 weeks, the website indicates that 13% of women will have an incomplete abortion.

While Planned Parenthood brushes off this complication, the truth is, if using mifepristone before 11 weeks, 6 to 13% of women will require a surgical procedure to “complete” their abortion. Later in pregnancy, the dangers for women are even greater.

In addition to the physical dangers of taking mifepristone, the emotional scars caused by the drug cannot be overstated. At eight to 10 weeks gestation, the baby is approximately the size and shape of a gummy bear. The abortion industry says this is just a clump of cells. But women tell the heartbreaking stories of delivering their clearly recognizable baby and not knowing what to do with the child’s remains.

Mary Szoch is the Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council.