A letter to newly-confirmed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. that was signed by 126 Republican members of Congress falsely asserts that “chemical abortions are four times more dangerous than surgical abortions.”
The Republican lie was refuted by one of the most recognizable names in American health care: The Mayo Clinic.
“A medical abortion doesn’t require surgery or anesthesia and can be started either in a medical office or at home with follow-up visits to your doctor. It’s safer and most effective during the first trimester of pregnancy,” says the Mayo Clinic. “Medical abortion hasn’t been shown to affect future pregnancies unless complications develop.”
The Republican lawmakers are calling on Califf to restore unnecessary regulations that required patients to pick up the drug at hospitals, clinics or doctors’ offices.
The medication, mifepristone, was approved by the FDA in 2000 for what’s known as medication abortion. It is used with a second drug, misoprostol.
“Medical abortion doesn’t require surgery or anesthesia,” says the Mayo Clinic. “The procedure can be started in a medical office or clinic. A medical abortion can also be done at home, though you’ll still need (a follow-up) visit your doctor to be sure there are no complications.”
Mifepristone blocks a hormone needed for pregnancy, while misoprostol empties the uterus. The regimen is considered safe within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, according to the FDA.
The FDA required patients to pick up mifepristone in person at a hospital, clinic or medical office. There is no FDA requirement that the medication, also known as RU-486, be taken in a clinical setting, and most patients take it at home.
The Food and Drug Administration’s decision in December allows abortion pills to be prescribed via telehealth and shipped to patients in the mail.
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone 21 years ago, it was known as RU-486 and hailed as the most important advance in reproductive health since the birth control pill. Time magazine had called it “The Pill That Changes Everything.”
It was supposed to provide an attractive alternative to surgical procedures, which can involve sedation, a visit to a healthcare facility, and obviously a great deal of medical expertise.
At the time, the abortion battleground was, by and large, women’s health clinics. The pill, in theory, could allow women to bypass clinics, and throngs of protesters, almost entirely.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and U.S. Congressman Bob Latta (R-Ohio) led the attempt by 35 GOP senators and 81 Republican members of the House of Representatives, to pressure Califf, who made a commitment to counter misinformation and pledged to ensure the agency is driven by science-based decisions, not politics.
A cardiologist who served as the 22nd commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Barack Obama, Califf was nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the agency again on November 12, 2021.
When activist Jex Blackmore appeared on Fox 2 News Detroit to debate pro-life lawyer Rebecca Kiessling, with host Charlie Langton moderating the live television segment, she swallowed an abortion pill to demonstrate how safe and effective it is.
Dr. Samantha Deans of Planned Parenthood, discussed the new Florida bill banning abortion after 15 weeks and the real-life impact the measure could have for women in her state.
Similar measures were passed by West Virginia’s House and Arizona’s Senate, inspired by a Mississippi abortion law that is now being considered by the Supreme Court, a case many fear may be used by justices determined to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects the right to privacy and guarantees freedom for women to choose if they want to terminate a pregnancy during the first and second trimesters.
“In addition to the loss of the unborn child, chemical abortion drugs present serious risk to the health of the mother, including severe bleeding, infection, the need for surgical intervention, and even death. In fact, chemical abortions are four times more dangerous than surgical abortions. These health risks necessitate, at minimum, in-person screening by a physician,” the Republican letter stated.
Experts at Planned Parenthood say that’s hogwash.
“The abortion pill is really safe and effective. It’s a super common way to have an abortion, and millions of people have used it safely,” said Planned Parenthood. “Unless there’s a rare and serious complication that’s not treated, there’s no risk to your future pregnancies or to your overall health. Having an abortion doesn’t increase your risk for breast cancer or affect your fertility. It doesn’t cause problems for future pregnancies like birth defects, premature birth or low birth weight, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or infant death.”