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We Need More Honesty on Medication Abortion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP, File

Late in March, Unplanned, the story of how former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson, became pro-life, hit theaters. 

One of the abortions shown, which was one of Johnson’s two abortions, is medication abortion. Johnson forks over the cash and is given Mifeprex pills which starves the child of nutrients, causing death in the womb, and then a day later takes Misoprostol to complete the abortion and expel the child. 


Readers may find this “Abortion Procedures: Pills” video explanation helpful, as given by Dr. Anthony Levatino, who used to perform abortions. 

As Johnson was told by Planned Parenthood, her bleeding to expel her dead unborn child will be like “a heavy period.” Planned Parenthood’s website describes the procedure similarly. 

What Johnson experienced, what other women experience from medication abortion is anything but the piece of cake the abortion industry bills it to be. In the film, Johnson is seen with blood dripping down her legs, passing blood clots, and vomiting into the toilet. 

Johnson writes about her medication abortion procedure in an excerpt from The Walls Are Talking: Former Abortion Clinic Workers Tell Their Stories. She talks of being “blindsided by a pain in my abdomen like nothing I had ever experienced before or since. Then came the blood in a proverbial tidal wave.” Then, there’s the talk of how “the rush of blood was terrifying and unrelenting.” Even Johnson thought she “was bleeding out” and that “this was the way I was going to die.”

And yet this is not what Johnson was told by Planned Parenthood would happen. Just as the abortion giant hasn’t and doesn’t tell other women what exactly goes into an abortion method which is instead sold as something that can be taken “wherever is comfortable for you.” Yes, Planned Parenthood actually uses that word. 


Johnson tells of how the clinic worker told her her symptoms were “not abnormal.” It was a full eight weeks, however, before she was free from the symptoms of blood clots, cramps, and nausea. 

The use of medication abortion has increased, as noted by the Guttmacher Institute. Perhaps it’s because Planned Parenthood is not honest or forthcoming about what, exactly, goes into this harrowing method which literally involves weeks of pain and suffering. If women do continue to undergo this method, they should at least do so knowing exactly what it entails. No wonder Johnson describes feeling “betrayed.” More women are likely to use that method since a generic version has been approved by the FDA. 

It is noteworthy how Johnson shares her supervisors weren’t upfront with women because they “don’t want to scare them.” She continued: 

After all, isn’t the abortion spin machine constantly going on about how they “trust women”? Women have died from medication abortion. Thousands of women, myself included, have suffered serious complications. If they truly trusted women, wouldn’t they do everything in their power to provide them with all the facts needed to make the right choice? Didn’t they think that women were intelligent enough to make decisions regarding their bodies if they were presented with all the facts? Where was the female empowerment that I’d heard so much about at abortion-advocate rallies?


Such is why informed consent laws are so important. And yet, surprise surprise, Planned Parenthood opposes them. Not only do these laws educate women, but they might also dissuade women from undergoing what can be quite a risky procedure. 

Johnson is not the only woman who had such a hellish experience with medication abortion, far from it. Women have even died, which mainstream media outlets, like NPR, have reported on. As of December 31, 2018, the amount of reported deaths is at 24 women. 

It is crucial for women to receive follow-up care, though many do not

Around 5 to 8 percent of women may need a surgical procedure to complete the abortion. According to studies, the failure rate for when taken in the 10th week of pregnancy can range from 7.3 percent to 10 percent.

Planned Parenthood dispenses many of their medication abortions through telemedicine abortion. It is paramount for women to be examined, however, to ensure that she is not more than 10 weeks pregnant, which is when the method is approved until. It is also necessary to ensure that the unborn child is in the uterus and not developing in the fallopian tubes.

Medication abortion has been in the news for a variety of reasons since its existence. From the involved deaths to telemedicine concerns, and now because an unapproved version is finding its way online from AidAccess and Rablon. The FDA has sent warning letters to such providers.


There are already concerns from medication abortion being offered via telemedicine without any kind of an ultrasound exam. To purchase medication, which can be very dangerous if not used completely correctly, makes the process even more dangerous. And yet media outlets such as Vox, Jezebel, Rewire, and CNN have rushed to defend these online suppliers putting women’s health and lives at risk. Now knowing more about medication abortion ask yourself if this is something women should be purchasing from online, off label, and not FDA approved.

There is some much needed hopeful news, however. While abortion advocates also fight making information about abortion pill reversal available, since Unplanned, the Abortion Pill Rescue Network is seeing an increase in calls about the process

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