Mail-Order Abortion Pill: Convenience Over Safety?
12 Jul, 2021
As many of you already know, Massachusetts has been undergoing a lot of change regarding abortion laws and regulations. With the passing of the Roe Act last December, girls as young as sixteen years old are now allowed to seek an abortion without their parents’ consent. Additionally, it permits abortions up to the due date of a baby’s birth, for reasons ranging from the patient’s or baby’s health, to being emotionally or mentally stressed. The stakes have never been higher in Massachusetts and unfortunately, with the addition of recent changes with mail-order abortion pills, the lives of young girls, women and babies are even more at risk.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth — the use of electronic information and devices to offer care when you and your doctor are not able to be in the same room — existed before the COVID 19 pandemic. However, with the pandemic came an augmented urgency to stay socially distanced from others. This meant that many people who were not experiencing emergency health conditions were seen via phone call, video chats, emails and messaging instead of an in-person appointment.
While this can be convenient in some cases, it is not necessarily always safe, especially when it comes to women’s healthcare. Many women experiencing an unexpected pregnancy may have found themselves being told a virtual appointment would be sufficient and an in-person appointment would not be necessary. Women were also prescribed the abortion pill over their Telehealth appointment, with the pill being mailed to their home. During the peak of the pandemic, this was not yet legal in the state of Massachusetts — now it is.
What is the Abortion Pill?
The abortion pill is actually a two-pill procedure with risks and side effects. The objective of the first pill (Mifepristone) is to cut off the flow of progesterone to the pregnancy, while the second one (Misoprostol) is meant to induce labor. It is also referred to as the RU-486 Pill and Mifeprex.
The abortion pill can come with many side effects and risks including, fever, infection, severe abdominal, pelvic or back pain, passing blood clots the size of lemons for more than two hours, and more.
Women in MA Can Now Access the Abortion Pill Through the Mail
For the first time, “women in Massachusetts are now eligible to get abortion services via telemedicine without having to leave their homes” (GBH News). Apparently, this is not meant to take the place of an in-person appointment with a primary doctor. However, due to how convenient it may seem, many women have chosen Telehealth as their main route when experiencing an unexpected pregnancy.
Furthermore, though it says women are required to provide an ultrasound performed by a primary doctor prior to receiving mail-order abortion pills, we have actually found that many abortion clinics are not making this a priority. In fact, on several independent abortion sites, including Safe Maternology, they do not require any information regarding ultrasound or even last menstrual period (LMP). Anyone who wants to have the abortion pill mailed directly to their home can simply access this site and order them online without providing any health information regarding their pregnancy. Without an ultrasound, women may be getting the abortion pill while not actually being pregnant at all. Your Options Medical staff receives frequent calls from women who want the abortion pill, yet have not even had a positive pregnancy test, let alone an ultrasound.
The Dangers of Mail-Order Abortion
The fact that many abortion clinics and sites are not requiring medical information from women seeking the abortion pill by mail is incredibly concerning and dangerous for several reasons.
A first-trimester ultrasound is crucial in order to:
1. Confirm how far along a woman is in her pregnancy
The abortion pill can only be taken up to 11 weeks. Having a first-trimester ultrasound is the only accurate way to determine how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. Otherwise, if a woman were to be further along than 11 weeks and take the pill, this can result in an incomplete or failed abortion, which can lead to life-threatening complications.
2. Rule out life-threatening complications such as ectopic pregnancies
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the egg is implanted and fertilizes outside of the uterus. The only way to determine whether a woman has an ectopic pregnancy is through ultrasound. It cannot be determined over the phone, video, email or other Telehealth appointments.
3. Confirm if there are multiple pregnancies present
An ultrasound will also be able to confirm whether a woman is expecting twins, triplets, etc. If a woman were to take the abortion pill in this case, it can be ineffective in ending all the pregnancies and can lead to health risks.
Our staff at Your Options Medical have received several calls and messages from women who have had complications regarding mail-order abortion pills:
- One woman messaged us on Facebook and asked for help, informing us that she had gotten the abortion pill in the mail. She told us she took the pills, but claimed they were not working. When we asked which pills she administered (there should be only two: Mifeprex and Misoprostol), she said she took around 10-12 pills and was having pain, but no bleeding. She was directed to the emergency room.
- Another patient ordered the abortion pills online and also claimed they were not working. Come to find out, they only sent her Mifeprex, but no misoprostol. This meant her baby had likely died from the Mifeprex, but her body would not deliver the baby without the misoprostol. This can have serious side effects, including infection and death.
Despite many abortion clinics claiming that receiving abortion pills in the mail is completely safe and effective, the fact that many women are not being required to show vital medical information proves otherwise. In fact, one of our staff members has a colleague who stated, “before COVID, abortion pill appointments lasted about 2 hours. Now, with telemedicine, those appointments are 15 minutes.” Doctors we work closely with, who practice in local hospitals, are reporting more instances of women being seen in the Emergency Room with complications from the abortion pill including, heavy bleeding and cramping, as well as incomplete abortions.
With more and more patients not having to see their doctor in person and not always being required to show necessary medical records like LMP and ultrasound reports, telehealth appointments are turning out to be more dangerous than convenient.
For many abortion clinics to fail to require vital health information prior to mailing out the abortion pill is negligent and evident of malpractice. At Your Options Medical, we are dedicated to not only saving babies, but also providing mothers with the necessary information and support, such as pregnancy testing, ultrasound, parenting classes, options counseling and other resources. Women deserve to know the full truth about their pregnancy and to know that abortion is not their only option.
We are thankful for the opportunity to reach more women and couples through our four centers. And because of our donors, we are able to continue to offer our services to our patients at completely no cost. Our donors hold such an important role in the ministry, which is why we strive to keep you informed with all the changes in Massachusetts abortion laws and regulations. Please pray for us as we strive to reach more women and save more babies going forward.