On Saturday, March 28, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) announced a massive expansion of telemedicine in response to the coronavirus. By not explicitly excluding chemical abortions in the announcement, he is attempting to hijack this legitimate coronavirus telemedicine response in order to strip away safety-nets around chemical abortions that continue to cause the deaths of pregnant women. Telemedicine expands civilians’ access to timely health care in crisis situations, but it should never be used for non-emergency procedures that can potentially put a patient’s life at risk without a doctor present.
In the midst of a national reckoning with the coronavirus outbreak, Governor Wolf, a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, is trying to capitalize on the emergency situation to promote the use of chemical abortions through manipulating an upcoming telemedicine bill. He has vowed to veto SB 857, a bill to expand the use of telemedicine as a response to the coronavirus, unless language requiring a doctor to administer the chemical abortion pill in person is removed.
Politicians like Governor Wolf argue it’s ethically responsible to give these chemical abortion pills to women without the supervision of a trained physician and in the middle of a global pandemic already stretching hospital resources. What’s the harm in allowing women in remote areas or without access to a trained physician to take the abortion pill on their own?
Few legal drugs wreak havoc on the human body like the chemical abortion pill. If a doctor doesn’t thoroughly examine the pregnant woman seeking the abortion pill for complicating conditions, the patient is at an incredible risk of the extreme bleeding that has become the pill’s life-threatening signature. One condition of special concern is ectopic pregnancy.
Statistically speaking, two mothers out of every 100 women who become pregnant in North America will have an ectopic pregnancy, meaning the baby develops not in the vaginal canal where it’s supposed to, but in one of the fallopian tubes. Considered one of the chief causes of maternal mortality in the first trimester, ectopic pregnancy becomes exponentially more lethal for the mother when paired with the chemical abortion pill taken at home, because it is one of the conditions that must be screened for by a trained physician.
The FDA has also released a report documenting adverse results from the use of the more potent drug in the abortion pill regimen Mifeprex’s chemical cocktail, Mifepristone. The report estimates that 3.7 million women in the United States used the abortion pill between September 28, 2000, and December 31, 2018. Over that 18-year span, 1,042 women were hospitalized by the drug, 599 bled so extensively that blood transfusions were required to save their lives, 412 developed infections (69 of which were considered severe), and 12 women died from conditions likely induced by the chemical abortion.
The FDA’s own report shows that Mifeprex endangers women’s lives even with available emergency medical care. Complications arising from this pill, like internal hemorrhaging and extreme bleeding, require intensive blood transfusions and professional medical care to overcome, and despite modern medical advances, women continue to die from it.
As American hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed, this drug becomes exponentially more dangerous by leaving women at the mercy of life-threatening complications that their health care system may not be able to intercept. With COVID-19 response taking top priority among medical professionals, government leaders have an ethical obligation to protect their constituents from additional medical harm, especially vulnerable pregnant women, during a time of crisis.
Samuel Lillemo is a Policy/Government Affairs intern at Family Research Council.