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By Josh Shepherd, The Stream, January 10, 2019
After two years marked by a few victories, conservative leaders caution that the newly divided Congress will likely derail any attempted pro-life federal legislation. These scholars urge Americans to become more aware of emerging threats to vulnerable lives.
“We should count on a stalemate for the next two years,” notes Chuck Donovan, president of Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI) based in Arlington, Va. “Just last week, the House Democratic majority used a limited spending bill to try to roll back the Global Mexico City Policy. Their plan was to have the U.S. fund agencies that provide or promote abortion. That sort of attempt at policy is going to be fairly typical.”
A nonprofit group associated with Susan B. Anthony List, Lozier Institute provides up-to-date research analysis on issues of human life and ethics. One of their top scholars voices particular concern on the growing trend of chemical abortions, wherein a pill regimen is used to “sanitize” the procedure. Despite its risks, pro-choice groups are pressing for expanded use.
“Look at what’s happening with abortion-inducing drugs,” says attorney Mary Harned, associate scholar at CLI. “Abortion advocates are suing the FDA right now to make Mifeprex available for self-induced abortion, without any kind of medical intervention.”
Her in-depth look at this issue illustrates larger trends in the abortion industry. Such weighty ethical questions cause even scholarly voices to issue severe warnings regarding the effects on public health. “We can hardly imagine the health crisis that could create for women in this country,” adds Harned. “It’s a very scary future.”
Tough Times, Extreme Measures for Abortion Industry
A law school graduate and longtime Capitol Hill staff member, Mary Harned has studied human life issues for over a decade. She served on-staff with the Select Investigative Panel in the U.S. House. The 2016 investigation concluded with a detailed report on the abortion industry’s questionable medical ethics and practices.
Mary Harned, J.D.
Today, Harned notes the environment has changed. “Few health care providers are even willing to perform abortions,” says the attorney. “This is something Planned Parenthood doesn’t like to talk about. A lot of their ‘problem’ with having more access to abortion provision is many providers do not want to be involved. Most OB/GYNs want to protect life, not end it.”
A recent article by Dr. Brent Boles of Murfreesboro, Tennessee confirms her observations. The practicing OB/GYN stated that those most aware of what abortion procedures do are almost universally unwilling to perform them. This has led pro-choice advocates to increasingly more extreme positions.
“Up until recently, abortion rights advocates have marched with coat hangers and talked about how they don’t want to return to the days when women were performing their own abortions,” says Harned. “Now they’ve made a big turnaround in their rhetoric.”
“Abortion advocates are suing the FDA to make Mifeprex available for self-induced abortion, without any kind of medical intervention. We can hardly imagine the health crisis that could create for women.” – attorney Mary Harned
She cites recent studies conducted by pro-choice group Gynuity, based in New York City. Their research promotes dramatically reducing health care provider involvement in the drug-induced abortion process.
“They are pushing for women to be able to do this on their own,” continues Harned. “Today they say, ‘Not all self-induced abortions are bad. Coat hangers are bad, but these drugs can be safely used at home with minimal medical supervision.’ That is not actually true, but it is what they’re promoting.”
Abortions By Internet
Recent declines in the abortion rate have been widely reported. Yet some figures leave out the rising percentage of chemical abortions. The trend concerns longtime pro-life leaders, though does not surprise them.
“Surgical abortions not only kill the baby — as does every abortion — but they’re also messy,” says Shawn Carney, president of 40 Days for Life. “The public doesn’t like this procedure. You have the risk of ambulances needing to be called, which we’ve seen a lot of during our prayer vigils outside these centers. Planned Parenthood doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.”
Currently, the only abortion-inducing drug approved by the FDA is Mifeprex. Thirty-four states permit only physicians to prescribe this pill regimen, which was known as RU-486 during its early trials. In 17 of those states, a provider must be physically present with the patient when prescribing the drug. Those few states effectively prohibit telemed abortions, the practice of dispensing pills to a patient after a video conference exam via the internet.
“Very serious risks come with the use of the drug-induced abortion regimen,” states Mary Harned. “These include life-threatening hemorrhaging, infections, retained tissue, the need for emergency surgery, and even death. Mifeprex is dangerous to women’s health, then providing it through telemed is even more dangerous. Yet Planned Parenthood is doing telemed abortions in ten states, and has stated they’d like to expand it.”
Recognizing its unique risks, the FDA has instituted safeguards for the abortion pill called a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). These standards include requiring an ultrasound and a physical exam, which the telemed process subverts.
“Now the REMS does not explicitly say you cannot do telemed abortion,” says Harned. “But the idea behind it is that a health care provider has contact with the patient and monitors them. You cannot do that over the internet.”
In the growing trend of telemedicine, a physician remotely examines a patient via the internet. Telemed abortions involve non-prescribing medical staff providing Mifeprex following a webcam-based exam. (Photo: USDA / Flickr)
Watch the Courts
With Congress in stalemate over life issues, experts are counting on the courts to be an active venue of conflict.
“States have enacted hundreds of pieces of pro-life legislation,” says Chuck Donovan. “Things are going to keep bubbling up, and the courts are where the battle will be. The Judicial branch kind of has to deal with it. Congress can table things, but the courts can only do that to a limited degree.”
Some court rulings could reinforce certain pro-life policies. However, other legal challenges are designed to further pro-choice goals. In late 2017, the ACLU filed a case in federal court on behalf of a Hawaii physician and three pro-choice medical groups.
“They are challenging, not a state law, but the actual Mifeprex REMS safeguards,” states Mary Harned. “They are suing the FDA on procedural and Constitutional grounds. Abortion advocates don’t just want this available via pharmacy or mail — they want over-the-counter availability of the abortion pill, which carries such serious risks.”
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Still, the Lozier Institute team state they have “some hope” that new dynamics in Congress could lead to new debate.
“We probably won’t see progress on the main abortion-related issues,” says Donovan. “But on issues like physician-assisted suicide and a few others, there is still some mixed opinion on a bipartisan basis.”
Watch the video below to learn more about chemical abortions (viewer discretion advised). Explore The Stream‘s complete coverage of human life issues, and sign up to receive top stories every week.