The ever-growing fight over abortion pill access continues with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filing a medically inaccurate lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in order to lessen the restrictions on chemical/medical abortions.
In a statement on the ACLU’s website regarding the lawsuit, the organization erroneously explains that it brought the lawsuit because “mifepristone (the first half of the abortion pill process) is a safe, effective prescription medication used to end an early pregnancy or treat a miscarriage.”
That’s not entirely true.
The ACLU is accurate in describing how mifepristone is used in regard to abortion, but the drug is not commonly used in miscarriage management—that’s misoprostol, which is actually the second half of the abortion pill process.
There are two drugs that are used to complete a medical/chemical abortion, also known as abortion pill(s), mifepristone and misoprostol. Mifepristone works to deprive the woman of the essential pregnancy hormone progesterone, which usually results in the death of the preborn baby. Misoprostol is taken about 24 to 48 hours later, and this drug causes uterine contractions resulting in an unnatural miscarriage.
When it comes to miscarriage management, most physicians will prescribe a high dose of misoprostol. According to the ACOG website, only one recent study has ever looked at the efficacy of mifepristone in miscarriage management and argued that perhaps it is helpful when combined with misoprostol. Others debate that conclusion.
One of the physicians that participated in the study is abortionist Dr. Mitchell Creinin, who recently attempted to disprove the abortion pill reversal protocol using ethically questionable methods. He had to end his study early citing problems with patients “bleeding,” which was likely caused by the use of mifepristone not the reversal protocol. If mifepristone became a useful drug for miscarriage management, that means it would be more readily available for abortions across the country.
Additionally, making mifepristone easily accessible nationwide is problematic since taking the drug on its own can be dangerous, hence why it has an FDA Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) attached to it. Common complications from a chemical abortion includes pain, bleeding, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, chills and fever, with severe complications including hemorrhaging, infection/sepsis, incomplete abortion, uterus rupture and death.
Disregarding those common and severe risks, the article makes this grossly inaccurate argument: “Of the more than 20,000 drugs regulated by the FDA, mifepristone is the only one that patients must obtain in a clinical setting yet may self-administer unsupervised at home. It’s not easy to see why no other drugs carry this restriction: There is no medical reason to dictate where a patient is standing when handed a pill, they will put in their pocket to swallow later at home.” (emphasis in the original)
This again describes misoprostol and not mifepristone.
Due to the dangers of mifepristone it has a REMS, which “focuses on preventing, monitoring and/or managing a specific serious risk by informing, educating and/or reinforcing actions to reduce the frequency and/or severity of the event.”
Of the 20,000 medications approved by the FDA, there are only 57 drugs considered dangerous enough to have a REMS designation, and most, like mifepristone, can only be administered in a clinical or sometimes even hospital setting due to the risk to the patient’s life and health.
The ACOG knows this, so why would the ACLU state otherwise? The courts and the public deserve accurate details about the medical science and process of the abortion pill(s).
During a medical/chemical abortion, are those doctors giving misoprostol to the women first and then later mifepristone? No, that’s not the protocol. Or worse, are they entirely ignoring the REMS guidelines set down by the FDA. Probably not, but that’s what they’re implying.
The ACLU and the ACOG are doing a disservice to the country by releasing a statement filled with so many scientific and medical inaccuracies. In the United States, groups have the right to file a lawsuit, but the merits of that suit should be based on fact, not propaganda.