Chemical abortions are marketed as an easy, convenient way to have an abortion. But a recent study highlights the devastating effects they can have on women.
For a chemical abortion, which occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, a woman is prescribed pills to induce an abortion. Although the U.S. abortion rate is declining, the share of those that are chemical abortions continues to rise.
In “#AbortionChangesYou : A Case Study to Understand the Communicative Tensions in Women’s Medication Abortion Narratives,” researchers studied the stories of women who had undergone chemical abortions. According to the authors, women pursued chemical abortions rather than surgical abortions “because of more privacy, convenience, and the perception of having more control.”
However, according to the Food and Drug Administration, chemical abortions are dangerous too, and have resulted in at least 24 maternal deaths, hundreds of hospitalizations, and thousands of reported adverse medical reactions. In fact, the abortion drugs fail between five and seven percent of the time.
The authors of the study cite that women pursue chemical abortion because of other difficult problems, ranging from money, to age, to a complete absence of support from their family. More than 50% of the women from the study acknowledged that either the baby’s father or someone else close in the family pushed them to have the abortion.
Unsurprisingly, these women often believed, not that abortion was a good option, but that it was their only option. As one woman wrote:
They all tell you ‘it’s your choice’ in the moment, but you don’t feel that it is. Being unable to afford it, unable to tell your loved ones, not having the help or feeling unable to support a child. When your partner doesn’t want it like you do. All these things push you, blind you to a decision that you don’t realize will destroy you.
The stories of women from the study showed the ill effects of chemical abortions often only seen in statistics from government agencies like the FDA.
For instance, many women had horrible physical reactions to taking the pills that they didn’t expect. They felt misled and even deceived by the information they were given about the chemical abortion procedure. Nearly 40% of the women from the study reported struggling “with anxiety, depression, drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts as a result of the abortion.”“From the outside, our life looks exactly the same as it would have,” one woman wrote. “But on the inside, everything has changed for me.”
For every story studied, there are surely many untold stories of women feeling pressured into choosing abortion, whether by someone in their life or just by the troubling circumstances of their situation. Stories of depression, isolation, and regret.
If this is the case, then why do the abortion industry, and some in the medical field, want to give pregnant women less information about this dangerous procedure?
For example, the American Medical Association (AMA) is challenging a North Dakota informed-consent law ensuring that women who are considering abortion know what to expect. The law makes sure that women know abortion ends the life of a “separate, unique, living human being” and that chemical abortions may be reversible if treated quickly. But the AMA is suing so that abortion providers can avoid giving this crucially relevant information to women.
ADF is defending the law on behalf of the pro-life group Heartbeat International. “Every woman deserves to know the whole truth about abortion, and that includes the facts about her child and the choices she can make every step of the way,” ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle has said.
Or, take the pro-abortion organizations that used the pandemic to challenge the FDA’s requirement that abortion providers meet with patients in person before prescribing pills for a chemical abortion, because this is the best way to guarantee the health and safety of the mother. This requirement should be nonpartisan, as it has endured through both Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. Yet these pro-abortion organizations argued that this health and safety protection for women burdened their ability to access abortion.
A federal district court agreed with the pro-abortion groups and stopped enforcement of the requirement nationwide. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the order from the lower court, reinstating the key protection for women.
In 1992, President Bill Clinton coined the phrase “safe, legal, and rare” to describe his view on what abortion should be. This is clearly far from the philosophy of today’s pro-abortion groups.
Charles Snow is a contributing writer at ADF Legal