(Un)Happy Birthday, Chemical Abortion: Part IV – How “Effective” is the “Abortion Pill”

In this fourth installment of Americans United for Life’s reflection on a disastrous twenty years of legal chemical abortion, we’ll examine honestly how often the chemical abortion process actually “work” to terminate an embryo in the womb. The truth is that it fails a predictable percentage of the time, depending on the gestational age of the embryo, and serious complications can result. 

            RU-486 – mifepristone – doesn’t always end a pregnancy. That’s been clear since the early trials, which demonstrated that even at early gestational ages, chemical abortion is sometimes ineffective at ending a pregnancy, and the incidence of missed or incomplete abortions rises substantially as gestational age increases. Mifepristone’s failure rate is 8% at 49 days gestation, 17% at 50-56 days gestation, and 23% at 57-63 days gestation. Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vaginal bleeding also increase with increasing gestational age, according to the New England Journal of Medicine

            A recent well-researched study published in the Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that approximately 1 out of 20 women require post-abortion surgery to complete a failed drug-induced abortion, and that number increases for gestational ages over 49 days. Likewise, a 2015 review of women receiving buccal administration of misoprostol for the abortion regimen at 50-56 days gestation reported that 3.3% of women required surgery to complete the abortion. However, the number of women requiring surgery to complete the abortion increased to 6.9% as the gestational age of the pregnancy increased. 

            Since treatment of drug-induced abortion complications can require surgical intervention, the same rationale for admitting privileges applies to the provision of drug-induced abortion as to surgical abortion. For this reason, according to guidance from the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, “Clinicians who wish to provide medical abortion services either should be trained in surgical abortion or should work in conjunction with a clinician who is trained in surgical abortions.” 

Although your abortionist may not tell you this, it’s important to bear in mind this built-in failure rate when considering chemical abortion, and to understand that in a predictable number of cases, it doesn’t avoid surgical abortion; in fact, it only exacerbates the known complications of abortion.