That is the conclusion of Renate Klein, an anti-abortion pill, pro-surgical abortion activist. This combination makes her preface in the second edition of RU486: Misconceptions, Myths and Morals an interesting contribution to the discussion around the abortion pill. She’s not arguing for the humanity of the pre-born child. She’s arguing for women.
Klein goes into depth on the excruciating experience that is the abortion pill. This includes the extreme pain and bleeding that are normal, as well as possible complications including ongoing pregnancy requiring a follow up surgical abortion, hemorrhaging, retained parts of the pre-born child or placenta, or infection.
What a woman sees after the abortion pill
Klein describes the “profound difference” between the abortion pill and a surgical abortion as “the likelihood with chemical abortion that women will actually see the expelled embryo in their sanitary pad or toilet, and although an embryo is still small at 7 or 9 weeks (1-1.5 cm), it is recognizable as the possibility of a child that has now ceased to exist.”
These of course are euphemisms. “Embryo” and “the possibility of a child” are attempts to dehumanize the pre-born child. Referring to abortion as a process that “expels” a child that “has now ceased to exist” is a neat way to describe the brutal ending of a human life.
But even with these careful ways of describing what is going on, Klein understands that it is distressing for women to face the truth. “[T]hose women who understand the precise action of RU-486 – that it stops nutrients reaching the implanted embryo – might be very disturbed by this method of terminating their growing embryo’s existence.” That is, women who understand that they are starving their child and, causing her death are upset.
Klein goes on to cite a 1998 UK study which found that “women who saw the foetus were most susceptible to psychological distress, including nightmares, flashbacks, and unwanted thoughts related to the procedure.”
What do you do with what you see?
It turns out that women are not comfortable with seeing what they are doing to their child. Seeing the reality means they can’t pretend not to know what abortion is. When faced with the body of the pre-born child who died due to their choice, women are distressed.
The question is what women will do with this distress. Klein thinks the solution is to just offer a surgical abortion where she doesn’t have to see her child. But does it really help women to shield them from the truth? The abortion pill provides women the opportunity to face reality. One such women is Elizabeth who told her story in the Missing Project series. Since seeing her pre-born child after taking the abortion pill, she has used her to story to try to reach others and help prevent other women from going through the same experience she did.
Let’s hope more women who see the truth will use their voice to help end this injustice.