Recent claims – published by ABC News and Slate, among others—have asserted that “telemed abortions” are safe. In addition to the inherent dangers of medical abortions (and specifically RU-486), there are a number of glaring flaws with these claims.
Take, for example, ABC News’ use of a “study” by Ibis Reproductive Health (Ibis) that “shows that [telemed abortions] are as safe and successful as medical abortions with a doctor physically present.” But consider this claim from the home page of Ibis’ website:
“Ibis Reproductive Health aims to improve women’s reproductive autonomy, choices, and health worldwide. We accomplish our mission by conducting original clinical and social science research, leveraging existing research, producing educational resources, and promoting policies and practices that support sexual and reproductive rights and health.”
On a separate area of the website, Ibis admits that its “projects focus on improving access to abortion.” In other words, the “study” cited by ABC News is no “study” at all. Ibis was conducing “research” with the specific purpose of supporting “reproductive rights.” Its “study” was conducted to “accomplish its mission” and by “leveraging” research. This is a far cry from an independent researcher publishing results from a scientific study in a peer-reviewed journal.
Further, both ABC News and Slate claim that “telemed abortions” are great news for women in rural areas. ABC states, “…women who live in rural states like Iowa have found it more difficult to terminate their pregnancies. But now, women who might otherwise travel hundreds of miles to see a physician have another option: telemedicine.” Slate claims that “telemed abortions” are “fantastic news” “for women who need abortions in provider deserts”—i.e., women in rural areas.
But according to the drug’s label, mifepristone (the first drug administered in the RU-486 regimen) is contraindicated if a patient does not have adequate access to medical facilities equipped to provide emergency treatment of incomplete abortion, blood transfusions, and emergency resuscitation during the period from the first visit until discharged by the administering physician. Thus, RU-486 is contraindicated for those “rural women” the abortion industry is targeting.
No amount of media spin or biased research can hide the fact that 14 women have died after using RU-486. Eight of these women died after being directed by their abortion providers to use RU-486 in a way contrary to the way it was approved by the FDA. Two women died after ruptured ectopic pregnancies—ectopic pregnancies that could presumably have been treated if a physician had conducted a thorough examination of the woman, including use of ultrasound to determine the location of the pregnancy.
Fourteen women who would likely beg to differ with the ABC and Slate spin—if they were still alive to do so.