Abortion Pill Risks Every Woman Should Know

The abortion industry is rapidly switching to chemical abortion, also known as the abortion pill. While many women might think this is a safer, more convenient method than a surgical procedure, there are still significant abortion pill risks that aren’t often considered.

Telemedicine is quickly growing (70% of doctors provided videoconferencing in 2020 compared to 14.3% in 2018) as women can see a doctor via video call and receive prescriptions without ever leaving their homes. But this presents a problem as it is impossible to properly prescribe the abortion pill without an ultrasound. 

Why An Ultrasound First is Important

Dr. Karysse Trandem, National Medical Director for Save the Storks, explains how there are many reasons that a woman needs an ultrasound prior to deciding to take the pill. The first is to ensure that the baby is living and has not already miscarried, as 45% of all pregnancies end up being miscarriages. Having an ultrasound is essential to make sure that a woman is not taken advantage of financially.

“Many times, abortion providers will not perform an ultrasound, they may just take the woman at her word based on her last period and charge them hundreds of dollars for the abortion pill,” Trandem says. “Or they may perform an ultrasound but not show the woman if the baby does not have a heartbeat and still charge the woman for the abortion pill. So women need to know first of all, and see with her own eyes, that her baby is either living or has miscarried.”

The woman also needs to know if the pregnancy is inside the uterus. If the pregnancy is ectopic, outside of the uterus, and a woman takes the abortion pill, there could be severe internal bleeding and hemorrhaging that could lead to the need for surgery or even maternal death.

Physical Side Effects of the Abortion Pill

Even if the pregnancy is inside the uterus, there is a significant risk of heavy bleeding and hemorrhaging if a woman chooses to take the abortion pill. The second pill of the procedure causes severe cramping as the pregnancy is being forced out of the woman’s body. If the pregnancy is not removed all the way, there is a risk that women will still require surgery.

An ultrasound is also key to ensure the gestational age of the pregnancy. The abortion pill is only FDA approved for use for up to 70 days or 10 weeks of pregnancy, and many times, especially with telemedicine, doctors only go off a woman’s word or last menstrual period when prescribing the abortion pill. If the abortion pill is taken later than is approved, there are extra risks involved and there is an added danger of delivering a second or third trimester baby prematurely.

“There are many reports of women who have taken the abortion pill only based on what they told a doctor their last period was, but didn’t receive an ultrasound. Then they delivered a near-term baby prematurely at home because of the abortion pill and many of those women would have said if they knew their baby was in the third trimester, they wouldn’t have gotten the abortion,” Trandem shares. “In these cases, the babies pass away before they can get to the hospital and get the care they need.”

Future Infertility Issues

Another major abortion pill risk is that it doesn’t just end one pregnancy for a woman, but also many times prevents the woman from having future children. Especially if there is a need for surgery for an incomplete abortion, there is a risk of scarring of the uterus or fallopian tubes, but regardless, the work of the second pill to expel the pregnancy has plenty of risks on its own.

“There’s a 36% increased risk of preterm birth from moms who have had one abortion and it’s because the cervix is forced open at the time of an active pregnancy,” Trandem said.

Dangerous Health Risks

Women who’ve had an abortion are also at higher risk for breast cancer. Trandem notes that there’s a 40% higher chance of developing breast cancer. In fact, 79 out of 108 studies posing the question found a higher risk of breast cancer in women who had an abortion.

Something else women should consider when deciding whether to take the abortion pill is the effect on mental health. Women who have had an abortion are 81% more likely to develop a chronic mental health problem, including depression, anxiety and PTSD. For those who elect to take the abortion pill, an added distress is watching the baby be expelled at home.

“Depending on the gestational age of the pregnancy, women can see a fully formed baby passing through in their toilet or in their shower,” Trandem says. “And so that is very traumatic for women to experience that loss firsthand.”

Help After Taking the Abortion Pill

There is hope for women who have started the abortion pill procedure and changed their minds about ending their pregnancy. Within the first 24 to 72 hours of taking the first pill, women can call the Abortion Pill Rescue Network, who will connect them with resources to counter the effects of the first pill. The treatment to restore progesterone to the pregnancy has been found to be 62% effective at saving the baby’s life. Read more about abortion pill reversal here.