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LETTER: Abortion pills are not a safer option

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

It seems that throughout the world there is a campaign to convince women and the general public that swallowing abortion pills is a normal and safe practice that we should all embrace as freeing for women.

I am a pro-lifer and it has always amazed me that women seem to know so little about abortion generally and next to nothing about chemical abortion, yet are willing to undergo it.

However, Emma Duke (“Abortion doulas — what are they and what do they do?” The Telegram, May 2) is trying to convince us that this self-managed, do-it-yourself abortion with your own personal doula in tow is the new freedom for women.

When Health Canada made the decision to license Mifegymiso in Canada it at least then had a good myth-vs.-fact sheet that explained succinctly that for all women but specifically women in rural communities: “Mifegymiso is a prescription drug with serious potential risks requiring physician oversight The need for medical supervision is based on strong evidence for good health and safety outcomes … it is estimated that one in 20 women who use this drug will require a followup surgical procedure because their pregnancy is not successfully terminated.”

What I took issue with then, and still do now after Health Canada has removed the requirement for ultrasound, is how we do not seem to care about the effect of Mifegymiso on women’s health – we know the child dies.

On the Mifegymiso, Canadian monograph under Clinical Trial Adverse Drug reactions, only 1,596 women were included with only 67 women under the age of 18 in order to gauge the “safety” of this chemical cocktail. In the adverse events available from the Health Canada website three women already have had to undergo surgical abortion after Mifegymiso with toxic shock syndrome, sepsis, septic shock and hemorrhage, among the problems encountered.

Even if Ms. Duke might wish us to disregard this information there is still the largest study ever undertaken so far in Finland which has a comprehensive network of medical registries that were used to track abortion outcomes in that country’s government-based healthcare system. 42,619 women (approximately half had chemical and half underwent surgical abortions) who had abortions up to 63 days gestational age were followed up until 42 days between 2000 and 2006. Chemical abortions (Mifegymiso-style) had approximately four times the rate of adverse events when compared with surgical abortions.

In summary, 20 out of every hundred women had a significant adverse event; 16 out of 100 women hemorrhaging excessively; seven out of every 100 women with tissue left inside; approximately 6 out of every 100 women needing re-evacuation of the uterus when using chemical abortion rather than surgical.

Sounds like a great situation to find yourself in minus any medical assistance don’t you think? It is shameful that Health Canada has been bullied by idealogues into withdrawing every stringent guideline, now including ultrasound, that helped keep women safe, protected their health and indeed their lives.

I am left wondering how a doula will know if the woman has an ectopic pregnancy, which is a contraindication for Mifegymiso, and may very well cause a life-threatening situation for some women but that is only the tip of the iceberg.

Mifegymiso is an unsafe and second-rate procedure with four times the risks associated with surgical abortion, but we must not worry because Health Canada has asked the “company to monitor the risks related to potential inaccurate dating and missed ectopic pregnancy diagnoses.”

So women need not worry, at least we will have the company’s record of the trauma you experienced — bit like a restaurant listing all the times it gave someone a stomach problem – great incentive to report, I do not think.

It is disgraceful.

Jakki Jeffs

Executive Director, Alliance for Life Ontario

Guelph, Ont.

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