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Dr. John Lee
A RESPONSE TO NEWFOUNDLAND’S INCLUSION OF MIFEGYMISO TO UNIVERSAL COVERAGE
Aug. 21, 2018- The provincial government of Newfoundland has announced that, starting September 1st, the drug commonly known as the “abortion pill” (Mifegymiso) will be provided at no cost to residents of Newfoundland and Labrador under universal coverage. MaterCare International (MCI), and international organization of obstetricians is reminding the public of the drug’s side effects, and we urge women and their families to educate themselves about this drug and to reconsider termination of their pregnancies in favor of life-affirming options.
When the abortion pill approval was announced in 2015, MCI produced a statement responding to the Canadian minister of health outlining the historical data that points to the adverse yet understated side effects of medical abortion as well as the impact of anxiety and stress on the hastened decision for medical abortion that prohibits informed and rational choice making.
Below you will find our official statement from 2015 that clearly recapitulates MCI’s professional input on medical abortion;
MATERCARE INTERNATIONAL’S STATEMENT ON THE DECISION BY HEALTH CANADA TO APPROVE MEDICAL ABORTION PILL
Canada’s minister of health recently announced approval of a method of medical (chemical) abortion which will be available to Canadians from 2016. The chemical cocktail contains 2 drugs, mifepristone (RU486) and misopristol, which can terminate an early pregnancy without the need for surgery in most cases. Mifepristone poisons the baby by opposing the action of progesterone, a natural hormone produced by the ovary and which supports the baby during the 1st trimester of development. Misoprostol works by inducing contractions in the womb, resulting in the baby and it’s sac being expelled from the mother’s body.
This type of medical abortion has been legalised in dozens of countries around the world where it is used to procure 20-60% of abortions, the remainder of mothers undergoing surgical abortion. When used to abort pregnancies up to 49 days from the first day of the mother’s last period, the effectiveness of medical abortion is about 95% in 1 week. Up to 5% of women (1 in 20) go on to have surgery to complete the abortion (D & C).
Historically, the introduction of medical abortion has been justified with claims that, compared with early surgical abortion, it is simpler, cheaper, easier to access, safer, more convenient for rural women, can be administered at home and avoids hospitalisation, causes less psychological distress and is preferred by women. In addition, the Chief Executive of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, has opined that the introduction of medical abortion should not result in more mothers opting for abortion. The current Canadian abortion rate of 100,000 per year is expected to remain stable.
However, an examination of the literature paints a different picture. Compared with early surgical abortion, medical abortion has been reported to cause severe side effects in 23% of women including nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headaches, dizziness and fever. Medical abortion takes longer (up to 2 weeks instead of 2 days) and is less predictable, causing women to abort anywhere and at any time. More doctor and hospital visits are needed to deal with the side effects and the longer process of abortion. More time off work is therefore needed and women undergoing medical abortion have reported more emotional distress from seeing the foetal tissue they have passed. Furthermore, medical abortion cannot entirely replace surgical abortion. In particular women undergoing medical abortion require ready access to a hospital-based service to deal with complications such as an incomplete or failed abortion, and to control heavy bleeding.
Overall, the death rate from medical abortion is about 10 times that of early surgical abortion. This is due to 3 specific problems seen with medical abortion: catastrophic vaginal bleeding, severe overwhelming infection (e.g. with Clostridium sordelli) and the mis-diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy. Serious complications from medical abortion are seen more often in women under the age of 18 years
Medical abortion has the added complication that some women who, having commenced mifepristone (RU486), change their mind and withdraw from treatment. If not managed appropriately with progesterone support, there is a 23% chance of birth defects including sirenomelia (fusion of the lower limbs).
Medical abortion using mifepristone (RU 486) is potentially reversible was first described in the medical literature in 2007 and, as of April 2015, there have been 223 attempts which resulted in 127 pregnancies either continuing or ending in a live birth. Treatment involves administering Progesterone by IM injection or vaginal pessary to ‘neutralise’ mifepristone until it is cleared (metabolised) by the mother’s body. Doctors can register to treat women requesting reversal of a medical abortion, and women can access doctors to reverse their medical abortion on the website www.abortionpillreversal.com.
MaterCare International believes that medical abortion is intended for the mass killing of human babies during the first 3 months of their development and that making it readily available in Canada will have significant negative health consequences for Canadians. By encouraging irresponsible sexual behaviour, increased access to medical abortion is likely to increase the overall number of abortions and cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s). More women will therefore suffer from the sequelae of STD, such as infertility and ectopic pregnancy, and the known complications of abortion. These include, post-abortion grief, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide, preterm birth and breast cancer.
Professor Bogdan Chazan MD, PhD,
Chairman of MaterCare International’s Council
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Warsaw
Professor Robert Walley
Executuve Director MaterCare International
Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
St John’s, NL
Toll Free:(888) 579 - 6472
August, 26th 2015.
originally published at: http://www.matercare.org/news-publications/official-statements/statement-on-medical-abortion/