At-Home Abortion Risks: Is Convenience too Costly?

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Medical abortion by telemedicine comes with risks that may outweigh the convenience.We all like convenience. Drive-up windows. Microwaves. Cell phones. Very convenient.

But when what’s at stake is our health, we have to consider what “convenience” may cost us.

These days, abortion-by-telemedicine is being touted as a convenient solution to unexpected pregnancies. A medical (“chemical”) abortion that used to require talking in person with an abortion provider to complete necessary screenings and review a woman’s current state of health, is being reduced to a remote, impersonal procedure that can possibly put her health at risk.

Here’s what you should know.

The Abortion Pill is Risky Medication

The abortion pill has been “black-labeled” by the FDA. Mifeprex (mifepristone), the first of two medications taken in a medical abortion, bears the strongest warning the FDA can put on any medicine. Because of the risks associated with taking this medication, it can only be dispensed legally by a doctor (as opposed to a pharmacy or an online supplier). (Read the entire label here  and see the FDA’s additional information here.)

In-Person Care Reduces Some Risks

Because of the risks posed by Mifeprex the FDA requires that:

  • Prescribers must be certified with the program by completing the Prescriber Agreement Form.
  • Patients must sign a Patient Agreement Form.
  • Mifeprex must be dispensed to patients only in certain healthcare settings, specifically clinics, medical offices and hospitals by or under the supervision of a certified prescriber.

There are several reasons for these guidelines. And they have to do with what may be missed if pills are handed out without in-person contact.

An ultrasound is needed to correctly reveal gestational age. A woman can easily underestimate the gestational age of her fetus. Yet knowing the correct age is important, since taking Mifeprex after 10 weeks’ gestation increases the risk of rupturing the woman’s uterus.

Locating the fetus by ultrasound is vital. If a woman’s fetus implanted outside the uterus, which occurs in about 1 out of 50 pregnancies, that ectopic pregnancy calls for a different response than medical abortion. Untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can cause serious injury to the woman.

Some medical conditions make medical abortion even riskier. It is important for a doctor to take time to grasp a patient’s complete medical history, especially any allergies or other conditions that could raise her risk of complications. These include conditions such as inherited porphyria, bleeding disorder, adrenal gland issues, or having an IUD in place.

Women can be coerced into signing the Patient Agreement. Without a private, in-person consultation, how can a doctor tell if a woman is being pressured to get an abortion by an abuser or sex trafficker? That consultation might be her last chance to get help in escaping from a dangerous life.[1]

“Health Care” When a Caregiver Isn’t There?

Expelling the fetus usually happens at home. Most often, a woman takes the second medication and completes her medical abortion alone, “in the privacy of her own home.” This is promoted as the most convenient place to undergo this step. Unsupervised by medical personnel, the woman experiences significant pain (rated by women in this study at levels of 6-10, where 10 is severe). This is accompanied by heavy bleeding to expel the fetus and tissues. The woman must then both see and dispose of her aborted fetus by herself.

Convenience only works one way. Promoters of telemed medical abortions say they help women who lack access to services due to location or circumstances. But what about afterward? Those same women may also lack access to the required follow-up care to assure the abortion was complete. They may also lack access to emergency services that could save their lives if they experience profuse bleeding, severe allergic reactions, or serious infection due to an incomplete abortion.

Knowing the Options Requires Unbiased Information

Those who make money off one choice will promote that one. If a woman is speaking to an abortion provider, she must realize that her source of information will be biased—not by conscience, but by the bottom line. A better source of complete information on all pregnancy options is a pregnancy center, where all services are free and where the staff has no financial stake in anything a woman decides to do. At these centers, the woman’s holistic health—mental, physical, and emotional—is the top priority.

A medical abortion can be reversed after the first pill is taken. Many abortion providers will not offer women this information. Yet over 1000 babies have been carried to term through the same medically-sound protocol commonly used to prevent miscarriage. Their mothers contacted local doctors through the Abortion Pill Rescue Network at (877) 558-0333 after taking Mifeprex and then changing their minds.

Choose Quality of Care over Convenience

In important decisions about abortion, a woman will make wiser choices if she has:

  • A professional caregiver who takes time to understand her unique situation
  • A clear picture of all her options—along with their benefits and challenges
  • Time to think things through without pressure
  • High-quality, supportive, and personalized care

As the Mayo Clinic says,

“Having a medical abortion is a serious decision. If possible, talk with your partner, family or friends. Talk with your doctor, a spiritual adviser or a counselor to get answers to your questions, help you weigh alternatives and consider the impact the procedure may have on your future.”

 

If you are considering a medical abortion,[2] we welcome you to sit down with our caring staff
to discuss your needs and explore your options.
Your challenging situation calls for real care, not just “convenience.”

Call or text us today.

 

 

For further information:
At-Home Abortion Facts: a resource packed with clear facts from the FDA and additional scientific sources.
Mayo Clinic article, “Medical Abortions”:  a factual description of medical abortion practices and what patients can expect.

 

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[1] Unfortunately, abortion providers are not known for aiding women in escaping abuse or trafficking, as this article points out. Abused or trafficked women are encouraged to contact a local pregnancy center, or call OptionLine at 800-712-4357 for the help they need.

[2] Choices Pregnancy Center is not a medical clinic, and does not perform, refer for, or profit from abortions.