Abortion Drugs Linked to Maternal Deaths in Developing World


Several new studies have found abortion drugs – touted as a solution to illegal, unsafe abortions – are linked to increased maternal deaths and suffering.

One study from Sri Lanka found “in developing countries, [medical abortions]widespread misuse has led to partial or septic abortion thereby increasing maternal mortality and morbidity.”

A large study from Finland concluded, “Because medical abortion is being used increasingly in several countries, it is likely to result in an elevated incidence of overall morbidity related to termination of pregnancy.”

Dr. Donna Harrison, a pre-eminent expert on mifepristone, reported on studies from Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Finland for the Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and Social Change. These studies found that mifepristone, also called RU-486, and misoprostol have high complication rates, with greater medical risks to women in developing countries.

Abortion advocates aggressively promote abortion drugs in developing countries because the lack of medical infrastructure, transportation to emergency centers, water and other supplies make surgical abortions less accessible and more risky. Yet these same obstacles exist for treating the greater risks associated with medical abortion. One frequent and necessary treatment is surgery. In Vietnam, researchers found one out of four women had to undergo a surgical abortion for an incomplete misoprostol abortion.

The Finland study revealed that under the best conditions medical abortions had four times more complications than surgical abortions. Women who took abortion pills hemorrhaged over seven times more often than surgical patients, had more failed abortions that required surgical follow-up, and 20 times greater risk of operative injuries from emergency surgeries as did surgical abortion patients.

This tracks with the U.S. where at least 14 women have died after taking mifepristone. In 2000, the U.S. approved mifepristone with restrictions, allowing only doctors to give the drug to patients after an ultrasound and requiring a follow-up medical exam to check for hemorrhaging or infection and to determine if the abortion was complete or if portions of the dead baby were inside the mother.

Within a year, the first maternal death from RU-486 was reported in the U.S. of a previously healthy 18 year-old. Her father subsequently set up a website “AbortionPillRisks.org” warning women of RU-486’s potentially deadly risks.

Abortion groups set their sights on pushing medical abortions in developing countries that are unable to implement safeguards and cannot track complications. Beverly Winikoff of Gynuity, a top promoter of chemical abortions, rejects safeguards, even opposing adding antibiotics to the abortion regimen because it “raise[s]the cost of the procedure, making it unaffordable in developing countries.”

Dr. Harrison charges abortion groups like Ipas with deceitfully claiming medical abortions are overwhelming safe even in developing countries and that legalizing abortion reduces maternal mortality. Scrutinizing numbers from Nepal, Dr. Harrison found that maternal mortality was “dramatically falling in Nepal BEFORE the legalization of abortion. Yet, these false claims by Ipas and others about the rate of maternal mortality due to ‘unsafe’ abortion are used to persuade governments to not only legalize abortion, but also to allow for the unsupervised use of abortion drugs, which will actually increase maternal mortality in the developing world.”


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