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Real Reproductive Justice Places Women’s Health Above Profit


“Abortion is good for women.”  “It’s healthy.  Much healthier than childbirth.”  “It carries no real risks.”  And abortion providers are only concerned about “protecting women’s health.”  After all, “abortion protects women’s health.”

At least, that is what the abortion advocates want women to believe.  And for decades, the American public has been buying into these tired and discredited mantras.  In fact, we have been so brainwashed by the “abortion is good for women” falsehood that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers no longer have to hide their one true aim: profit.

The misuse of the abortion drug regimen RU-486 is an excellent example of the abortion industry putting profit above women’s health””and lives, for that matter.  When the regimen tested and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is compared to the way abortionists are actually administering the drug, the blatant disregard for women’s health becomes clear.

According to the FDA, the RU-486 regimen is only to be used through 49 days gestation; it consists of four separate drug doses (three oral doses of mifepristone, followed by a single oral dose of misopristol, administered over the course of multiple days); it must be administered orally; it must be administered in a clinic, medical office, or hospital and under the supervision of a physician; and the woman must return for follow-up care.  Under this approved regimen, a woman must go to the healthcare facility at least 3 times””twice to undergo the administration of the drug and once for follow-up care.

But instead of following the FDA-tested protocol, Planned Parenthood and other abortionists use their own “evidence-based” and untested protocol when providing RU-486 to women.  By their own admission, they provide it up to 63 days gestation; they provide women with just a single oral dose mifepristone, followed by a single dose of misopristol, which they direct the women to administer vaginally instead of orally; they allow and even direct women to take the drugs at home and in the absence of physician supervision; and they do nothing to ensure follow-up care.

Even when administered according to the FDA protocol, RU-486 can have devastating consequences for women.  No ultrasound is required under this protocol, despite the fact that an ultrasound is necessary to determine the gestational age of the pregnancy and whether the pregnancy is ectopic.  In fact, RU-486 is particularly dangerous because its side effects are confusingly similar to the symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy.  Failing to properly diagnose an ectopic pregnancy can lead to a rupture of the fallopian tube, causing bleeding, severe pain, and even death.  By failing to follow the FDA protocol, Planned Parenthood is clearly placing women’s health and lives even more at risk.

And this disregard for women’s lives is not done in secret.  In fact, Planned Parenthood has declared in documents before state and federal courts in Ohio and Arizona that it follows its own preferred protocol and not the FDA-tested protocol.

Why?  Not because it is safer for the woman, that is certain.  They do it because it is more convenient for abortionists.  If they send a woman home, that means less time they spend with each woman.  And the less time they spend with a woman, the more women they can push through in a day.  And the more women they push through in a day, the more money they make.

In the last several months, even more abortion clinics around the nation have announced that they will now be offering RU-486 to women.  For example, in February, Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon announced plans to start offering RU-486 at its Ashland and Eugene clinics.  Executive Director Cynthia Pappas stated that the “board of directors decided to offer the service to provide women with an option for terminating a pregnancy in the comfort and privacy of home.”[1] Again, Planned Parenthood is not hiding its misuse of RU-486, and Pappas’ statement demonstrates the purposeful deviation from the FDA-tested regimen.

Similarly, Planned Parenthood of Illinois announced in September of last year that its Springfield location would begin providing “medication abortions” in 2010.  As reported by sources interviewing Planned Parenthood officials, “Medication abortions allow women during the first trimester of their pregnancies to complete abortions in the privacy of their homes. A woman first takes a drug called mifepristone at a clinic or doctor’s office, and a second, misoprostol, later at home.”[2]

While Steve Trombley, president and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Planned Parenthood, claimed that Planned Parenthood would make no money on the newly provided RU-486 abortions, he also commented that “Planned Parenthood will provide medication abortions in Springfield, rather than surgical abortions, because the medication approach requires less space, expense and other resources.”[3]

Resources such as money?  In other words, a penny saved is a penny earned?

Or in Planned Parenthood’s case, millions of women risked, billions of dollars made.

[1] See Ashland Clinic Will Offer Medication-Induced Abortions, Mail Tribune (Feb. 23, 2010), available at http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100223/NEWS07/2230331/-1/NEWSMAP (last visiting Mar. 16, 2010) (emphasis added).

[2] See Planned Parenthood to Offer Abortion Pills, State Journal-Register (Sept. 23, 2009), available at http://www.sj-r.com/health/x576519774/Local-Planned-Parenthood-to-offer-abortion-drugs (last visited Mar. 16, 2010) (emphasis added).

[3] Id.

Other posts from AUL’s Reproductive Justice Series: