A lawsuit filed last week in a New Hampshire state court aims to stop the New Hampshire Board of Pharmacy from granting licenses to abortion facilities that violate FDA safety protocols for medical abortions. The board recently re-licensed six Planned Parenthood facilities that distribute abortions pills past the recommended gestation period and send clients home with medication to finish the abortion at home without a prescription—a violation of state law.
Approved by the FDA in 2000, medical abortions require two medications—mifepristone and misoprostol—to terminate a pregnancy. Initially, abortion proponents heralded the new method, claiming it made abortion safer and more private for women than a surgical procedure. But 13 years later, even abortion supporters are questioning the practice.
Consider Kay’s story: A self-described “ardent supporter of women’s rights” who previously underwent a surgical abortion, Kay and her now-husband decided to end a pregnancy earlier this year as they were both busy with graduate studies. This time, they called Planned Parenthood to get a medical abortion.
Following the doctor’s instructions, Kay took the mifepristone at the clinic, and ingested the misoprostol at home three days later. Fifteen minutes after taking the misoprostol, Kay said she thought she was going to die: “This pain was unimaginable, indescribable,” she said on a website about abortion pill risks. “It was the worst pain I have ever felt. With every cramp I felt my heart race and my blood pressure plummet.”
Kay’s husband called the Planned Parenthood emergency line and was told what she was going through was “normal” and she could take more pain pills if she was “uncomfortable.” A month later, Kay was getting out of the car and felt a warm rush down her legs: The entire seat and floor was covered in blood. The Planned Parenthood hotline once again said her symptoms were “normal.” Kay became depressed and hid at home until her ordeal was over.
“I was horrified,” she wrote. “Why hadn’t anyone told me it would be like this?”
Diane Seigle, the client services coordinator at Real Choices Pregnancy Care Center in Lafayette, Colo., has helped hundreds of women who experienced post-abortion regrets. She found that a woman who has experienced a medical abortion lives with an additional trauma because she sees the contents of her uterus: “If [a woman] aborts into the toilet at home, every time she uses it, she may be thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I flush down my own toilet?’”
The FDA has approved medical abortions as “safe” up through 49 days of pregnancy and requires both the first pill and second pill to be taken at a physician’s office. However, Planned Parenthood’s national website advertises the procedure up through 63 days of pregnancy. In addition, many Planned Parenthood facilities—like the one Kay visited—let clients take the second pill at home, which puts women in a desperate situation if they experience complications.
No matter what kind of abortion a woman has had, Seigle encourages women to find healing and peace from their post-abortion turmoil, like she did: “I went through some terrible times because of it, to the point of near suicide. … But then I met Jesus, this amazing savior. I can’t make up for what I did. [What] I couldn’t do—Jesus did. I have forgiveness through the cross.”