The abortion pill has arrived

By Justina Van Manen

It’s here. The arrival of the abortion pill Mifegymiso in several Canadian clinics has been greeted with cries of “at long last!” from the abortion industry and its ardent supporters. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada’s Facebook page has been posting about it for ages, hailing its virtues and cursing any cautionary measures Health Canada put in place. The restrictions on the drug were called “humiliating” and “degrading,” coupled, of course, with the oh-so-tiring accusation that no one “trusts women.” 

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What I found slightly crazy—even from Joyce Arthur—were the adamant claims that Mifegymiso needs to be made readily available and over the counter, particularly for women in rural communities without good access to health care. This is crucial to Ms. Arthur, as it appears that to her and her ilk, the most important thing to think about when considering women’s health is how they can best interfere with a completely natural, healthy process that shows you your body is working the way it’s supposed to. (As a side note, I can’t understand why many abortion advocates won’t just admit that abortion is an unnatural process. As Jonathon mentioned in a recent article, if animals acted this way in terminating their young, we would all be very concerned). Anyway, Arthur claims that the pill is needed for women without easy access to a doctor, because this new DIY abortion kit practically makes doctors obsolete. A woman simply pops a pill, waits a bit, pops another one, and her pregnancy problems are over. At least, that’s the unicorn and rainbow version of the story. If we actually look at the abortion pill, it isn’t always that simple.

So how does it work? Mifegymiso is a two-step drug regimen and is recommended until the 49th day of pregnancy. Mifepristone, which blocks the production of progesterone, is taken first. Without adequate progesterone, the lining of the uterus breaks down, and the baby dies. This process can be reversed in its beginning stages if progesterone is administered. Between 48-72 hours after taking Mifepristone, Misoprostol is taken, which together with Mifepristone creates severe cramping and contractions, often accompanied by heavy bleeding, to expel the baby from her uterus. 

I’m not going to argue that Mifegymiso is dangerous for the woman taking it, though obviously it’s always dangerous for her pre-born child. Like all ‘medical’ procedures that interfere with natural processes, it has its risks. The abortion pill has been around in Europe for over a quarter of a century and it has been legal in the States since 2000, and while there have definitely been complications, it’s kind of comparable to the complications involving birth control. I don’t find Arthur more crazy than normal when she proclaims her excitement about the pill. What I find crazy is how readily available she wants it to be. 

Health Canada advised that Mifegymiso be prescribed only by a doctor, and that the patient should actually take the first pill, Mifepristone, in the doctor’s office. The reason it’s important that a doctor be involved is because women can’t take the pill if they have an ectopic pregnancy, ovarian mass, IUD, use corticosteroid, adrenal failure, anemia, bleeding disorders or use of blood thinners, asthma, lier or kidney problems, heart disease, or high blood pressure, some of which can only be determined by doctoral examination. This means that if you have any of these things and buy the abortion pill over the counter, your risk rises dramatically, and in fact, the Federal Drug Association has received reports of one case of pill use during an ectopic pregnancy that resulted in death for the woman as well as her child, and several cases of blood infections that were also fatal.

Further, this procedure fails 8-10% of the time. That’s not a particularly high failure rate, but if we look at the statistics, it’s still a significant number. In 2014 81897 abortions were reported. Considering that not all abortion have to be reported legally, an estimated number of unreported abortions brings the number of abortions per day in Canada to about 300. In the States, where Mifegymiso has been available for over a decade and a half, one in four abortions are medical. Since Canada usually has similar numbers, that means that if Mifegymiso is made more available around 75 women a day will be using the drug. Since the drug fails approximately 8-10% of the time with the potential for requiring surgical abortion to finish the procedure, approximately 6 of the 75 women will need some type of medical care. That’s over 2000 women a year, and if even just 1% of those women are the women in rural locations that Arthur mentions, that means the lives of 20 women will be put seriously at risk.

It’s hard to understand how people can be so fanatically pro-abortion, so set on dismembering pre-born children, that they’re willing to put women under such a risk. As for the mantra: “trust women,” I think it’s not only clear that Joyce Arthur and her cronies can’t be trusted with the lives of pre-born children, they can’t be trusted with the health of the mothers either.