The Associated Press recently put out an article attempting to fact check pro-life claims regarding the abortion pill. Let’s take a minute and fact check the fact checker’s claims.
Claim #1: “Research shows that medication abortions, which involve taking pills to end a pregnancy, are safe and effective.”
Fact: A pill that is designed to end a life cannot accurately be described as “safe.”
The goal of the abortion pill is to end the life of a pre-born child. The article cites a 96.7% effectiveness rate in this regard. Very effective, but certainly not safe.
Near the end of the article, the article does get around to talking about the life in the womb, saying that “a fetus at 11 weeks is ‘probably a centimeter and a half to two centimeters.’…[P]rior to eight weeks, when many patients are seeking abortions, the pregnancy consists of an embryo, not a fetus.”
It’s worth taking a moment to point out two elements that this article uses to dismiss the value of the child in the womb. The first is terminology. They cite a professor who claims, “There is no baby there. The embryo is the size of a piece of rice.” Terms like embryo, fetus, baby, infant, toddler, child, etc. all describe one aspect of a human being: their age. While it would be accurate to say that, at nine weeks, the life in the womb is not an infant, that does not then imply that the life has no value. We do not have value based on how old we are. We have value because we are human, regardless of our age.
The second element that is mentioned frequently is the size of that life in the womb. The article claims that at 11 weeks the child is probably 1.5-2 cm. It appears they got their terms of measurement mixed up, as in actuality the pre-born child at 11 weeks is 1.5 inches. My sister-in-law’s nostalgia pregnancy app says the 11-week child is the size of tootsie pop candy top. Regardless of the size of the pre-born child, it’s an irrelevant factor. We don’t have value once we reach a certain size. We have value because we are human, regardless of our size.
Claim #2: “Less than 1% of people who have sought a medication abortion have had complications.”
Fact: The normal experience of women having an abortion is nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastric discomfort, abdominal pain, vaginal bleeding, fatigue, fever, and dizziness. This helpful video from the University of Waterloo explains that you should only seek emergency care if you are bleeding clots the size of lemons for more than three hours. Anything less isn’t considered a complication.
While it is true that most women survive the abortion pill with no serious complications, the regular side effects are unpleasant and more serious side effects are also possible.
Serious complications include severe hemorrhaging. According to the Mifegymiso Product Monograph shared by Health Canada, this happens in 1-10% of cases. To put that into actual numbers, in BC there were about 4,500 uses of the abortion pill in 2018-2019. That means anywhere from 45-450 women experienced severe hemorrhaging. That’s only BC. We don’t yet have abortion pill numbers after 2019, but we expect the numbers to have increased during the response to Covid-19. It is correct to say that less than 1% of women had complications. But that 1% represents a substantial and increasing number of women here in Canada.
We need to keep this in mind when abortion advocates talk about the lack of access to the abortion pill in Saskatchewan, especially for those in rural areas. If 1% of women taking this drug are going to need emergency care, maybe the reluctance of some to provide this is out of concern not only for the pre-born child, but also for the health and well-being of the mother, many of whom will not be able to quickly access emergency care. Pro-abortion advocates are quick to decry barriers to access for abortion, but sometimes what they are trying to remove are important safeguards for women’s health.
For more information on the abortion pill, read our position paper here.