Last December, the Biden administration's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) relaxed safety regulations that allowed for dangerous chemical abortion pills to made available online and by mail without an in-person visit. This is despite how data shows such a method was much more dangerous than surgical abortions. It was also revealed that the FDA relied on incomplete data when making the decision. It's sadly not surprising, then, how women and even providers have been going about getting these pills has been further distorted since then.
Last week, FiveThirtyEight provided provided coverage for Aid Access, a Dutch international group that sends over chemical abortion pills where it's illegal.
Such coverage acknowledges that "Aid Access occupies a kind of legal gray area," but mentions the group claims to follow the law. When it comes to laws against this method it's also mentioned that, "these laws are difficult to enforce and individuals are rarely prosecuted, essentially creating a legal loophole for groups like Aid Access and the people who use their services."
While the piece includes the pro-abortion argument that pro-life laws don't change the supposed "need for abortion," it doesn't include any pro-life counterarguments. There's also no mention of the dangerous side effects of such a method. In fact, the coverage promotes the method by using one-sided information that claims this method "is effective and low risk."
At one point, such coverage even seemingly promotes illegal abortions:
Medication abortion isn’t just used for legal abortions, though — it’s also a safe, hard-to-detect way to terminate a pregnancy outside the medical and legal system. In the era before Roe v. Wade, various methods of self-induced abortion often resulted in infection or other serious health problems. Now, though, it’s relatively easy for people to order abortion pills over the internet from services like Aid Access.
Not mentioned in the piece is a study from the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which found that visits to the emergency room following a chemical abortion increased by 507 percent from 2002 to 2015. It's worth noting that the FDA extended when the method was approved for in 2016, from seven weeks to 10 weeks.
The Charlotte Lozier Institute is a project of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which weighed in on this dangerous method in a statement for Townhall. As SBA Pro-Life America State Policy Director Katie Glenn mentioned, "chemical abortion has significantly higher complication rates than other methods, and these increase with each week of gestation."
Some some studies have found 10 percent of women face incomplete abortions at 9-weeks gestation. This can lead to death from infection if remaining fetal parts or tissue are not properly removed.
This method carries with it four times the complications of surgical abortions. Side-effects and risks include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, fever/chills, and headaches. The bleeding may last for weeks after the abortion.
"We have to recognize this for what it is - international companies are profiting off of the death of children in the womb and are putting vulnerable women at risk in the process. This dangerous market is the next frontier of the abortion landscape, and pro-lifers everywhere must take note," said Chelsey Youman, the national legislative advisor for Human Coalition Action said in a statement for Townhall. In mentioning these risks highlighted above, she also warned that "Women can order the pill online without consulting their own doctor at all, opening themselves up to dangerous risks such as hemorrhaging, adding "Women and children deserve better."
Students for Life of America (SFLA) also has a website, This is Chemical Abortion, which details the procedure, including how a woman gives birth to a dead unborn child at home without medical supervision. "The abortion industry has been outraged that death by abortion may be less profitable as fewer people get an abortion surgery post-Roe’s end. Their back up plan was reckless distribution of chemical abortion pills," Kristi Hamrick, SFLAs's chief media & policy strategist, said in a statement for Townhall.
Again, none of this is acknowledged by FiveThirtyEight. The site has been promoting the supposed importance of the abortion issue in the midterm elections, and continues to do so.
Not only is this dangerous method likely being provided for illegally, but some abortionists are going "rogue" and providing them before a woman is even pregnant, according to a recent headline from POLITICO.
"The FDA is concerned about the advance prescribing of mifepristone for this use," an FDA spokesperson granted anonymity to describe sensitive agency policies told POLITICO. "Mifepristone is not approved for advance provision of a medical abortion."
While Glenn said "It's good to see the FDA break from the Biden administration and push back against abortion extremists' so-called 'advance prescribing' of dangerous abortion drugs to women--or men--who are not pregnant and may give, sell, or slip the pills to someone else," she also called on the FDA to do more.
"The FDA knows these are dangerous drugs, which is why they have kept some safeguards in place for over two decades, including that a woman be screened for contraindications like ectopic pregnancy and that they only be taken in the first ten weeks of pregnancy. The FDA should exercise its enforcement authority to penalize any provider who is violating its rules and placing women in harm's way. Women deserve better than being left alone without any medical or emotional support as they bleed out. This is not medicine--it's ideologically-driven abortion on demand," she added.
Hamrick wasn't very sympathetic to the FDA, as she also said in her statement that "dangerous online, no test chemical abortion abortion sales are what the FDA set up, in getting rid of the health and safety standards that protected women, not the preborn, from abortion pills that have a higher rate of injury and death than surgical abortion."
"Now Biden’s FDA wonders if things are getting out of hand, as deadly drugs are stockpiled and handed out without concern for women. The FDA is reaping the whirlwind of their own bad decisions that prioritized a quick abortion sale over women’s health and safety. Even if you support abortion, and I don’t, that’s no argument for the negligent way the FDA has handled the distribution of chemical abortion pills," she added.
Aid Access is also referenced in this piece, for engaging in such a dangerous practice:
The FDA spokesperson told POLITICO that if mifepristone, which stops the flow of hormones supporting a fetus in the uterus, were prescribed before a patient is pregnant, providers wouldn’t be able to properly oversee care to ensure safety and effectiveness. Abortion medication is regulated more tightly by the FDA than other drugs, restricting how the regimen can be prescribed.
Some telemedicine providers, including Choix, as well as in-person providers, have begun offering the pills before pregnancy as a way to expand access to abortion after the Supreme Court’s June decision that gave states the right to ban the procedure.
Netherlands-based Aid Access has been doing so since last fall, when Texas’ six-week abortion ban took effect.
Advocates of advance provision say it enables patients fearful of losing access to abortion because of the court decision to be prepared in case they need to have an abortion at a later date, and that it’s safe and effective.
Choix CEO Cindy Adam pushed back against the FDA in a statement to POLITICO, saying that restrictions on medication abortion are unnecessary and that the regimen is safe. Choix offers “ongoing, supportive” care throughout the process, she said.
Aid Access did not respond to a request for comment.
But the FDA is concerned that if patients were to take mifepristone weeks or months after getting a prescription filled, a medical professional may not be able to assess if a pregnancy is intrauterine or ectopic or date pregnancies properly. The drug is only approved through 70 days gestation for abortions.
For whatever reason, this information was left out of the FiveThirtyEight piece.
POLITICO's coverage includes comment from an abortion provider and activist, Daniel Grossman, who promotes making the method even more available. "I’ve talked to providers who have done this for years where the patient was going someplace where they were going to have difficulty accessing care," he's quoted as saying. "It’s also not that different from what we did with emergency contraception before it became available over the counter."
Even more chillingly towards the end is that it is mentioned the FDA spokesperson wouldn't speak to if they are considering changing the restrictions. Also in her statement, Youman warned that "the administration is pushing to make this regimen as widely accessible as possible - which is unconscionable." She called for "federal legislation that holds these international pill providers accountable."
This piece too neglects any mention of the risks and side-effects from this method. The pro-life perspective is also left out.
Hamrick's statement also mentioned the concern that chemical abortion pills won't detect or treat ectopic pregnancies.
"Consider the fake news that corporate abortion put out about their concerns for ectopic pregnancies, which were always treated as the life-threatening event they are. And yet, unless you screen with an ultrasound before getting either a surgical or chemical abortion, you won’t know that an ectopic pregnancy is putting a woman at risk. Chemical abortion pills won’t end an ectopic pregnancy, so stockpiling then is no answer. The FDA should be ashamed of risking women’s lives to help the political allies of the Biden Administration," she concluded.
POLITICO has in its own way promoted the abortion issue.
Regardless of how such outlets seek to cover the abortion issue, though, polls consistently show that economic issues, especially inflation, are top of mind for voters and have remained that way going into Tuesday's elections.